The electrophysiology of the renal Na-K ATPase was studied in isolated perfused amphibian proximal tubules during alterations in bath (serosal) potassium. Intracellular and extracellular ionic activity measurements permitted continuous evaluation of the Nernst potentials for Na+, K+, and Cl- across the basolateral membrane. The cell membrane and transepithelial potential differences and resistances were also determined. Return of K to the basal (serosal) solution after a 20-min incubation in K-free solution hyperpolarized the basolateral membrane to an electrical potential that was more negative than the Nernst potential for either Na, Cl, or K. This constitutes strong evidence that at least under stimulated conditions the Na-K ATPase located at the basolateral membrane of the renal proximal tubule mediates a rheogenic process which directly transfers net charge across the cell membrane. Interpretation of these data in terms of an electrical equivalent circuit permitted calculation of both the rheogenic current and the Na/K coupling ratio of the basolateral pump. During the period between 1 and 3 min after pump reactivation by return of bath K, the basolateral rheogenic current was directly proportional to the intracellular Na activity, and the pump stoichiometry transiently exceeded the coupling ratio of 3Na to 2K reported in other preparations.

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