Spherical "myoballs" were grown under tissue culture conditions from striated muscle of neonatal rat thighs. The myoballs were examined electrophysiologically with a suction pipette which was used to pass current and perfuse internally. A microelectrode was used to record membrane potential. Experiments were performed with approximately symmetrical (intracellular and extracellular) sodium aspartate solutions. The resting potential, acetylcholine (ACh) reversal potential, and sodium channel reversal potential were all approximately 0 mV. ACh-induced currents were examined by use of both voltage jumps and voltage ramps in the presence of iontophoretically applied agonist. The voltage-jump relaxations had a single exponential time-course. The time constant, tau, was exponentially related to membrane potential, increasing e-fold for 81 mV hyperpolarization. The equilibrium current-voltage relationship was also approximately exponential, from -120 to +81 mV, increasing e-fold for 104 mV hyperpolarization. The data are consistent with a first-order gating process in which the channel opening rate constant is slightly voltage dependent. The instantaneous current-voltage relationship was sublinear in the hyperpolarizing direction. Several models are discussed which can account for the nonlinearity. Evidence is presented that the "selectivity filter" for the ACh channel is located near the intracellular membrane surface.

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