The voltage-dependent gating of transient A2-type potassium channels from primary cultures of larval Drosophila central nervous system neurons was studied using whole-cell and single-channel voltage clamp. A2 channels are genetically distinct from the Shaker A1 channels observed in Drosophila muscle, and differ in single-channel conductance, voltage dependence, and gating kinetics. Single A2 channels were recorded and analyzed at -30, -10, +10, and +30 mV. The channels opened in bursts in response to depolarizing steps, with three to four openings per burst and two to three bursts per 480-ms pulse (2.8-ms burst criterion). Mean open durations were in a range of 2-4 ms and mean burst durations in a range of 9-17 ms. With the exception of the first latency distributions, none of the means of the distributions measured showed a consistent trend with voltage. Macroscopic inactivation of both whole-cell A currents and ensemble average currents of single A2 channels was well fitted by a sum of two exponentials. The fast time constants in different cells were in a range of 9-25 ms, and the slow time constants in a range of 60-140 ms. A six-state kinetic model (three closed, one open, two inactivated states) was tested at four command voltages by fitting frequency histograms of open durations, burst durations, burst closed durations, number of openings per burst, and number of bursts per trace. The model provided good fits to these data, as well as to the ensemble averages. With the exception of the rates leading to initial opening, the transitions in the model were largely independent of voltage.

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