Single channel currents though apical membrane Cl channels of the secretory epithelial cell line T84 were measured to determine the anionic selectivity and concentration dependence of permeation. The current-voltage relation was rectified with single channel conductance increasing at positive potentials. At 0 mV the single channel conductance was 41 +/- 2 pS. Permeability, determined from reversal potentials, was optimal for anions with diameters between 0.4 and 0.5 nm. Anions of larger diameter had low permeability, consistent with a minimum pore diameter of 0.55 nm. Permeability for anions of similar size was largest for those ions with a more symmetrical charge distribution. Both HCO3 and H2PO4 had lower permeability than the similar-sized symmetrical anions, NO3 and ClO4. The permeability sequence was SCN greater than I approximately NO3 approximately ClO4 greater than Br greater than Cl greater than PF6 greater than HCO3 approximately F much greater than H2PO4. Highly permeant anions had lower relative single channel conductance, consistent with longer times of residence in the channel for these ions. The conductance sequence for anion efflux was NO3 greater than SCN approximately ClO4 greater than Cl approximately I approximately Br greater than PF6 greater than F approximately HCO3 much greater than H2PO4. At high internal concentrations, anions with low permeability and conductance reduced Cl influx consistent with block of the pore. The dependence of current on Cl concentration indicated that Cl can also occupy the channel long enough to limit current flow. Interaction of Cl and SCN within the conduction pathway is supported by the presence of a minimum in the conductance vs. mole fraction relation. These results indicate that this 40-pS Cl channel behaves as a multi-ion pathway in which other permeant anions could alter Cl flow across the apical membrane.

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