The relative permeability of endplate channels to many organic cations was determined by reversal-potential criteria. Endplate currents induced by iontophoretic "puffs" of acetylcholine were studied by a Vaseline gap, voltage clamp method in cut muscle fibers. Reversal potential changes were measured as the NaCl of the bathing medium was replaced by salts of organic cations, and permeability ratios relative to Na+ ions were calculated from the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation. 40 small monovalent organic cations had permeability ratios larger than 0.1. The most permeant including NH4+, hydroxylamine, hydrazine, methylamine, guanidine, and several relatives of guanidine had permeability ratios in the range 1.3--2.0. However, even cations such as imidazole, choline, tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane, triethylamine, and glycine methylester were appreciably permeant with permeability ratios of 0.13--0.95. Four compounds with two charged nitrogen groups were also permeant. Molecular models of the permeant ions suggest that the smallest cross-section of the open pore must be at least as large as a square, 6.5 A x 6.5 A. Specific chemical factors seem to be less important than access or friction in determining the ionic selectivity of the endplate channel.

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