The activity of single L-type Ca2+ channels was recorded from cell-attached patches on acutely isolated skeletal muscle fibers from the mouse. The experiments were concerned with the mechanism by which aminoglycoside antibiotics inhibit ion flow through the channel. Aminoglycosides produced discrete fluctuations in the single-channel current when added to the external solution. The blocking kinetics could be described as a simple bimolecular reaction between an aminoglycoside molecule and the open channel. The blocking rate was found to be increased when either the membrane potential was made more negative or the concentration of external permeant ion was reduced. Both of these effects are consistent with a blocking site that is located within the channel pore. Other features of block, however, were incompatible with a simple pore blocking mechanism. Hyperpolarization enhanced the rate of unblocking, even though an aminoglycoside molecule must dissociate from its binding site in the channel toward the external solution against the membrane field. Raising the external permeant ion concentration also enhanced the rate of unblocking. This latter finding suggests that aminglycoside affinity is modified by repulsive interactions that arise when the pore is simultaneously occupied by a permeant ion and an aminoglycoside molecule.

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