Modification of sodium channel inactivation by alpha-chymotrypsin in canine cardiac Purkinje cells

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 1993 Dec;4(6):686-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.1993.tb01254.x.


Introduction: Studies of tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium current (INa) after modification of inactivation by intracellular enzymes in mammalian cells have demonstrated a marked increase in peak INa at test potentials near current threshold causing a large, negative shift of the peak INa conductance-voltage relationship by approximately -20 mV. These findings support a kinetic model in which the unmodified Na channel has rapid and voltage-independent inactivation from the open state. However, the kinetics of cardiac Na channels differ from those of mammalian neuronal Na channels. In particular, inactivation of cardiac Na channels has been proposed to be more voltage dependent than that of tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na channels. To help understand the role of inactivation in cardiac Na channel kinetic behavior, we studied Na currents before and after modification of inactivation by the proteolytic enzyme, alpha-chymotrypsin.

Methods and results: Whole cell INa was measured in single canine cardiac Purkinje cells that were voltage clamped and internally perfused with a large-bore suction pipette. The decay of INa in response to step depolarizations was dramatically slowed after perfusion with intracellular alpha-chymotrypsin consistent with modification of inactivation. In contrast to mammalian tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na current, Boltzmann distribution fits to peak INa conductance-voltage (GNa-V) relationships after alpha-chymotrypsin showed no change in either the potential at half maximum conductance (V 1/2), after correction for the spontaneous background shift of INa kinetics, or in the voltage-dependence of conductance (i.e., slope factor of GNa-V relationships). Maximal peak INa conductance increased by 18%. INa tail-current relaxations at potentials < or = -110 mV, after correction for spontaneous shifts in Na channel kinetics, were also similar before and after modification by alpha-chymotrypsin.

Conclusion: alpha-chymotrypsin modified inactivation of cardiac INa with little or no change in activation, and cardiac Na channel inactivation was slow near threshold and played little role in determining V1/2 for peak INa conductance-voltage relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chymotrypsin / pharmacology*
  • Dogs
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / chemistry
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / ultrastructure
  • Sodium Channels / analysis
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Sodium Channels
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Chymotrypsin