The effects of quinidine on the fast, the delayed, and the Ca2+-activated K+ outward currents, as well as on Na+ and Ca2+ inward currents, were studied at the soma membrane from neurons of the marine mollusk Aplysia californica. External quinidine blocks these current components but to different degrees. Its main effect is on the voltage-dependent, delayed K+ current, and it resembles the block produced by quaternary ammonium ions (Armstrong, C. M., 1975, Membranes, Lipid Bilayers and Biological Membranes: Dynamic Properties, 3:325-358). The apparent dissociation constant is 28 microM at V = +20 mV. The blocking action is voltage and time dependent and increases during maintained depolarization. The data are consistent with the block occurring approximately 70-80% through the membrane electric field. Internal injection of quinidine has an effect similar to that obtained after external application, but its time course of action is faster. External quinidine may therefore have to pass into or through the membrane to reach a blocking site. The Ca2+-activated K+ current is blocked by external quinidine at concentrations 20-50-fold higher compared with the delayed outward K+ current. In addition, it prolongs the time course of decay of the Ca2+-activated K+ current. Na+ and Ca2+ inward currents are also blocked by external quinidine, but again at higher concentrations. The effects of quinidine on membrane currents can be seen from its effect on action potentials and the conversion of repetitive "beating" discharge activity to "bursting" pacemaker activity.

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