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J Gen Physiol. 1998 Jan;111(1):83-93.

Slow inactivation does not affect movement of the fast inactivation gate in voltage-gated Na+ channels.

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Program in Neuroscience, Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Voltage-gated Na+ channels exhibit two forms of inactivation, one form (fast inactivation) takes effect on the order of milliseconds and the other (slow inactivation) on the order of seconds to minutes. While previous studies have suggested that fast and slow inactivation are structurally independent gating processes, little is known about the relationship between the two. In this study, we probed this relationship by examining the effects of slow inactivation on a conformational marker for fast inactivation, the accessibility of a site on the Na+ channel III-IV linker that is believed to form a part of the fast inactivation particle. When cysteine was substituted for phenylalanine at position 1304 in the rat skeletal muscle sodium channel (microl), application of [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl]methanethiosulfonate (MTS-ET) to the cytoplasmic face of inside-out patches from Xenopus oocytes injected with F1304C RNA dramatically disrupted fast inactivation and displayed voltage-dependent reaction kinetics that closely paralleled the steady state availability (hinfinity) curve. Based on this observation, the accessibility of cys1304 was used as a conformational marker to probe the position of the fast inactivation gate during the development of and the recovery from slow inactivation. We found that burial of cys1304 is not altered by the onset of slow inactivation, and that recovery of accessibility of cys1304 is not slowed after long (2-10 s) depolarizations. These results suggest that (a) fast and slow inactivation are structurally distinct processes that are not tightly coupled, (b) fast and slow inactivation are not mutually exclusive processes (i.e., sodium channels may be fast- and slow-inactivated simultaneously), and (c) after long depolarizations, recovery from fast inactivation precedes recovery from slow inactivation.

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