Voltage-clamp studies on intact and internally perfused squid giant axons demonstrate that ammonium can substitute partially for either sodium or potassium. Ammonium carries the early transient current with 0.3 times the permeability of sodium and it carries the delayed current with 0.3 times the potassium permeability. The conductance changes observed in voltage clamp show approximately the same time course in ammonium solutions as in the normal physiological solutions. These ammonium ion permeabilities account for the known effects of ammonium on nerve excitability. Experiments with the drugs tetrodotoxin (TTX) and tetraethyl ammonium chloride (TEA) demonstrate that these molecules block the early and late components of the current selectively, even when both components are carried by the same ion, ammonium.

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