Fast events in single-channel currents activated by acetylcholine and its analogues at the frog muscle end-plate

J Physiol. 1985 Dec;369:501-57. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1985.sp015912.


The fine structure of ion-channel activations by junctional nicotinic receptors in adult frog muscle fibres has been investigated. The agonists used were acetylcholine (ACh), carbachol (CCh), suberyldicholine (SubCh) and decan-1,10-dicarboxylic acid dicholine ester (DecCh). Individual activations (bursts) were interrupted by short closed periods; the distribution of their durations showed a major fast component ('short gaps') and a minor slower component ('intermediate gaps'). The mean duration of both short and intermediate gaps was dependent on the nature of the agonist. For short gaps the mean durations (microseconds) were: ACh, 20; SubCh, 43; DecCh, 71; CCh, 13. The mean number of short gaps per burst were: ACh, 1.9; SubCh, 4.1; DecCh, 2.0. The mean number of short gaps per burst, and the mean number per unit open time, were dependent on the nature of the agonist, but showed little dependence on agonist concentration or membrane potential for ACh, SubCh and DecCh. The short gaps in CCh increased in frequency with agonist concentration and were mainly produced by channel blockages by CCh itself. Partially open channels (subconductance states) were clearly resolved rarely (0.4% of gaps within bursts) but regularly. Conductances of 18% (most commonly) and 71% of the main value were found. However, most short gaps were probably full closures. The distribution of burst lengths had two components. The faster component represented mainly isolated short openings that were much more common at low agonist concentrations. The slower component represented bursts of longer openings. Except at very low concentrations more than 85% of activations were of this type, which corresponds to the 'channel lifetime' found by noise analysis. The frequency of channel openings increased slightly with hyperpolarization. The short gaps during activations were little affected when (a) the [H+]o or [Ca2+]o were reduced to 1/10th of normal, (b) when extracellular Ca2+ was replaced by Mg2+, (c) when the [Cl-]i was raised or (d) when, in one experiment on an isolated inside-out patch, the normal intracellular constituents were replaced by KCl. Reduction of [Ca2+]O to 1/10 of normal increased the single-channel conductance by 50%, and considerably increased the number of intermediate gaps. No temporal asymmetry was detectable in the bursts of openings. Positive correlations were found between the lengths of successive apparent open times at low SubCh concentrations, but no correlations between burst lengths were detectable. The component of brief openings behaves, at low concentrations, as though it originates from openings of singly occupied channels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Carbachol / pharmacology
  • Chlorides / pharmacology
  • Choline / analogs & derivatives
  • Choline / pharmacology
  • Dicarboxylic Acids / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Motor Endplate / physiology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Rana temporaria
  • Time Factors


  • Chlorides
  • Dicarboxylic Acids
  • Ion Channels
  • subecholine
  • Carbachol
  • dodecanedioic acid
  • Choline
  • Acetylcholine
  • Calcium