Ion channel block by acetylcholine, carbachol and suberyldicholine at the frog neuromuscular junction

Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1985 Sep 23;225(1240):329-55. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1985.0065.


Three nicotinic agonists, suberyldicholine, acetylcholine and carbachol, have been investigated by single channel recording at the endplates of adult frog muscle fibres. All three agonists can block the channels that they open. Suberyldicholine is the most potent blocker; it has an equilibrium constant for binding to the open channel of about 6 microM and blockages last for about 5 ms on average, at -105 mV. A plot of the mean number of blockages per unit open time against concentration ('blockage frequency plot') suggests that suberyldicholine does not produce long-lived blocked states such as might occur, for example, if it could be trapped within a shut channel. The characteristics of the 'blockage frequency plot' are analysed in Appendix 2. Block by acetylcholine and carbachol has much lower affinity (the equilibrium constants being a few millimolar for both), and blockages are much briefer, so that blockage appears to produce noisy single channel currents of reduced amplitude. A method based on the spectral density of the excess 'open' channel noise has been used to investigate the rate of blocking and unblocking. The basis of this method is discussed in Appendix 1. It is estimated that the mean duration of a blockage is about 18 microseconds for acetylcholine and 9 microseconds for carbachol.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Carbachol / pharmacology*
  • Choline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Choline / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Ion Channels / drug effects*
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematics
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Rana temporaria


  • Ion Channels
  • subecholine
  • Carbachol
  • Choline
  • Acetylcholine