The consequences of ionic current flow from the T system to the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of skeletal muscle are examined. The Appendix analyzes a simple model in which the conductance gx, linking T system and SR, is in series with a parallel resistor and capacitor having fixed values. The conductance gx is supposed to increase rapidly with depolarization and to decrease slowly with repolarization. Nonlinear transient currents computed from this model have some of the properties of gating currents produced by intramembrane charge movement. In particular, the integral of the transient current upon depolarization approximates that upon repolarization. Thus, equality of nonlinear charge movement can occur without intramembrane charge movement. A more complicated model is used in the text to fit the structure of skeletal muscle and other properties of its charge movement. Rectification is introduced into gx and the membrane conductance of the terminal cisternae to give asymmetry in the time-course of the transient currents and saturation in the curve relating charge movement to depolarization, respectively. The more complex model fits experimental data quite well if the longitudinal tubules of the sarcoplasmic reticulum are isolated from the terminal cisternae by a substantial resistance and if calcium release from the terminal cisternae is, for the most part, electrically silent. Specific experimental tests of the model are proposed, and the implications for excitation-contraction coupling are discussed.

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