Sodium current and sodium channel intramembrane gating charge movement (Q) were monitored in voltage-clamped frog node of Ranvier after modification of all sodium channels by batrachotoxin (BTX). BTX caused an approximately threefold increase in steepness of the Q vs. voltage relationship and a 50-mV negative shift in its midpoint. The maximum amount of intramembrane charge was virtually identical before and after BTX treatment. BTX treatment eliminated the charge immobilization observed in untreated nodes after relatively long depolarizing pulses and slowed the rate of OFF charge movement after a pulse. After BTX treatment, the voltage dependence of charge movement was the same as the steady-state voltage dependence of sodium conductance activation. The observations are consistent with the hypothesis that BTX induces an aggregation of the charged gating particles associated with each channel and causes them to move as a unit having approximately three times the average valence of the individual particles. Movement of this single aggregated unit would open the BTX-modified sodium channel.

This content is only available as a PDF.