Royal Society Publishing

The Relationship between the Inactivating Fraction of the Asymmetry Current and Gating of the Sodium Channel in the Squid Giant Axon

R. D. Keynes, N. G. Greeff, D. F. Van Helden


A quantitative comparison between the voltage dependence of the inactivating component of the asymmetrical charge transfer in the squid giant axon and that of the sodium conductance indicates that activation of the sodium system involves either three subunits operating in parallel or a three-step series mechanism. This is confirmed by an examination of the relative timing of the flow of asymmetry and ionic currents during the opening and closing of the sodium channels. In agreement with previous suggestions, inactivation is coupled sequentially to activation. The evidence appears to argue against a trimeric system with three wholly independent subunits and favours a monomeric system that undergoes a complex sequence of conformational changes.

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