The inactivation of charge movement components by small (-100 to -70 mV) shifts in holding potential was examined in voltage-clamped intact amphibian muscle fibers in low [Ca2+], Mg(2+)-containing solutions. The pulse protocols used both large voltage excursions and smaller potential steps that elicited prolonged (q gamma) transients. Charge species were distinguished through the pharmacological effects of tetracaine. These procedures confirmed earlier observations in cut fibers and identified the following new properties of the q gamma charge. First, q gamma, previously defined as the tetracaine-sensitive charge, is also the component primarily responsible for the voltage-dependent inactivation induced by conditions of low extracellular [Ca2+]. Second, this inactivation separates a transient that includes a "hump" component and which has kinetics and a voltage dependence distinct from the monotonic decay that remains. Third, q gamma, previously associated with delayed charge movements, can also contribute significant charge transfer at early times. These findings suggest that the parallel inhibition of calcium signals and charge movements reported in low [Ca2+] solutions arises from influences on q gamma charge (Brum et al., 1988a, b). They also reconcile reports that implicate tetracaine-sensitive (q gamma) charge in excitation-contraction coupling with evidence that early intramembrane events are also involved in this process (Pizarro et al., 1989). Finally, they are relevant to hypotheses of possible feedback or feed-forward roles of q gamma in excitation-contraction coupling.

This content is only available as a PDF.