The kinetics of 9-aminoacridine (9-AA) block of single Na channels in neuroblastoma N1E-115 cells were studied using the gigohm seal, patch clamp technique, under the condition in which the Na current inactivation had been eliminated by treatment with N-bromoacetamide (NBA). Following NBA treatment, the current flowing through individual Na channels was manifested by square-wave open events lasting from several to tens of milliseconds. When 9-AA was applied to the cytoplasmic face of Na channels at concentrations ranging from 30 to 100 microM, it caused repetitive rapid transitions (flickering) between open and blocked states within single openings of Na channels, without affecting the amplitude of the single channel current. The histograms for the duration of blocked states and the histograms for the duration of open states could be fitted with a single-exponential function. The mean open time (tau o) became shorter as the drug concentration was increased, while the mean blocked time (tau b) was concentration independent. The association (blocking) rate constant, kappa, calculated from the slope of the curve relating the reciprocal mean open time to 9-AA concentration, showed little voltage dependence, the rate constant being on the order of 1 X 10(7) M-1s-1. The dissociation (unblocking) rate constant, l, calculated from the mean blocked time, was strongly voltage dependent, the mean rate constant being 214 s-1 at 0 mV and becoming larger as the membrane being hyperpolarized. The voltage dependence suggests that a first-order blocking site is located at least 63% of the way through the membrane field from the cytoplasmic surface. The equilibrium dissociation constant for 9-AA to block the Na channel, defined by the relation of l/kappa, was calculated to be 21 microM at 0 mV. Both tau -1o and tau -1b had a Q10 of 1.3, which suggests that binding reaction was diffusion controlled. The burst time in the presence of 9-AA, which is the sum of open times and blocked times, was longer than the lifetime of open channels in the absence of drug. All of the features of 9-AA block of single Na channels are compatible with the sequential model in which 9-AA molecules block open Na channels, and the blocked channels could not close until 9-AA molecules had left the blocking site in the channels.

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