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J Gen Physiol. 1967 May;50(5):1287-302.

The selective inhibition of delayed potassium currents in nerve by tetraethylammonium ion.


The effect of tetraethylammonium ion (TEA) on the voltage clamp currents of nodes of Ranvier of frog myelinated nerve fibers is studied. The delayed K currents can be totally abolished by TEA without affecting the transient Na currents or the leakage current in any way. Both inward and outward currents disappear. In low TEA concentrations small K currents remain with normal time constants. The dose-response relationship suggests the formation of a complex between TEA and a receptor with a dissociation constant of 0.4 mM. Other symmetrical quaternary ammonium ions have very little effect. There is no competition between TEA and agents that affect the Na currents such as Xylocaine, tetrodotoxin, or Ca ions. The pharmacological data demonstrate that the Na, K, and leakage permeabilities are chemically independent, probably because their mechanisms occupy different sites on the nodal membrane. The data are gathered and analyzed by digital computer.

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