Treatment of giant axons from the squid, Loligo pealei, with pronase removes Na channel inactivation. It was found that the peak Na current is increased, but the activation kinetics are not significantly altered, by pronase. Measurements of the fraction of open channels as a function of voltage (F-V) showed an e-folding at 7 mV and a center point near -15 mV. The rate of e-folding implies that a minimum of 4 e-/channel must cross the membrane field to open the channel. The charge vs. voltage (Q-V) curve measured in a pronase-treated axon is not significantly different from that measured when inactivation is intact: approximately 1,850 e-/micron2 were measured over the voltage range -150 to 50 mV, and the center point was near -30 mV. Normalizing these two curves (F-V and Q-V) and plotting them together reveals that they cross when inactivation is intact but saturate together when inactivation is removed. This illustrates the error one makes when measuring peak conductance with intact inactivation and interpreting that to be the fraction of open channels. A model is described that was used to interpret these results. In the model, we propose that inactivation must be slightly voltage dependent and that an interaction occurs between the inactivating particle and the gating charge. A linear sequence of seven states (a single open state with six closed states) is sufficient to describe the data presented here for Na channel activation in pronase-treated axons.

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