K channels in the basolateral membrane of insect hindgut were studied using current fluctuation analysis and microelectrodes. Locust recta were mounted in Ussing-type chambers containing Cl-free saline and cyclic AMP (cAMP). A transepithelial K current was induced by raising serosal [K] under short-circuit conditions. Adding Ba to the mucosal (luminal) side under these conditions had no effect; however, serosal Ba reversibly inhibited the short-circuit current (Isc), increased transepithelial resistance (Rt), and added a Lorentzian component to power density spectra of the Isc. A nonlinear relationship between corner frequency and serosal [Ba] was observed, which suggests that the rate constant for Ba association with basolateral channels increased as [Ba] was elevated. Microelectrode experiments revealed that the basolateral membrane hyperpolarized when Ba was added: this change in membrane potential could explain the nonlinearity of the 2 pi fc vs. [Ba] relationship if external Ba sensed about three-quarters of the basolateral membrane field. Conventional microelectrodes were used to determine the correspondence between transepithelially measured current noise and basolateral membrane conductance fluctuations, and ion-sensitive microelectrodes were used to measure intracellular K activity (acK). From the relationship between the net electrochemical potential for K across the basolateral membrane and the single channel current calculated from noise analysis, we estimate that the conductance of basolateral K channels is approximately 60 pS, and that there are approximately 180 million channels per square centimeter of tissue area.

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