ION CONDUCTION IN SUBSTATES OF THE BATRACHOTOXIN-MODIFIED NA+ CHANNEL FROM TOAD SKELETAL-MUSCLE
Batrachotoxin-modified Na+ channels from toad muscle were inserted into planar lipid bilayers composed of neutral phospholipids. Single-channel conductances were measured for [Na+] ranging between 0.4 mM and 3 M. When membrane preparations were made in the absence of protease inhibitors, two open conductance states were identified: a fully open state (16.6 pS in 200 mM symmetrical NaCl) and a substate that was 71% of the full conductance. The substate was predominant at [Na+] > 65 mM, whereas the presence of the fully open state was predominant at [Na+] 15 mM. Addition of protease inhibitors during membrane preparation stabilized the fully open state over the full range of [Na+] studied. In symmetrical Na+ solutions and in biionic conditions, the ratio of amplitudes remained constant and the two open states exhibited the same permeability ratios of P(Li)/P(Na) and P(Cs)/P(Na). The current-voltage relations for both states showed inward rectification only at [Na+] 10 mM, suggesting the presence of asymmetric negative charge densities at both channel entrances, with higher charge density in the external side. An energy barrier profile that includes double ion occupancy and asymmetric charge densities at the channel entrances was required to fit the conductance-[Na+] relations and to account for the rectification seen at low [Na+]. Energy barrier profiles differing only in the energy peaks can give account of the differences between both conductance states. Estimation of the surface charge density at the channel entrances is very dependent on the ion occupancy used and the range of [Na+] tested. Independent evidence for the existence of a charged external vestibule was obtained at low external [Na+] by identical reduction of the outward current induced by micromolar additions of Mg2+ and Ba2+.
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