Properties of the voltage sensor for the opening and closing of the sodium channels in the squid giant axon

Proc Biol Sci. 1993 Jul 22;253(1336):61-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1993.0082.


A combination of data from standard I-V curves, and from steps applied either at the initial current peak or in the inactivated steady state, yielded values of the total probability of the two open states of the sodium channel, multiplied by a constant scaling factor, as a function of membrane potential. The probability function PFpeak was found to reach a maximum for pulses to 40-50 mV, but for larger test potentials it underwent a slight decline. The curve for its rise was shifted in a positive direction by several millivolts when the temperature was raised. Measurements of the probability function PFss in the final steady condition, when almost the whole population of channels was inactivated, but a small flow of Na+ current persisted, showed that the voltage sensor responsible for the actual opening of the channels carried 0.8 electronic charges, and that its equilibrium potential had been shifted nearly 100 mV by inactivation to lie close to 50 mV. The charge carried by the C<-->O voltage sensor was the same for all the dialysis and bathing solutions that were tested, but when dialysing with 350 mM NaF and bathing with full Na seawater plus 16 nM TTX, the equilibrium potential in the inactivated state was increased by about 25 mV.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Choline / pharmacology
  • Decapodiformes
  • Ion Channel Gating* / drug effects
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematics
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Models, Neurological
  • Probability
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Sodium Channels
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • tetramethylammonium
  • Choline