The effects of various intracellular anions on the G protein (GK)-mediated activation of the muscarinic K+ (KACh) channel were examined in single atrial myocytes isolated from guinea pig hearts. The patch clamp technique was used in the inside-out patch configuration. With acetylcholine (ACh, 0.5 microM) in the pipette, 1 microM GTP caused different magnitudes of KACh channel activation in internal solutions containing different anions. The order of potency of anions to induce the KACh channel activity at 0.5 microM ACh and 1 microM GTP was Cl- greater than or equal to Br- greater than 1-. In the SO4(2-) or aspartic acid internal solution, no channel openings were induced by 1 microM GTP with 0.5 microM ACh. In both the Cl- and SO4(2-) internal solutions (with 0.5 microM ACh) the relationship between the concentration of GTP and the channel activity was fit by the Hill equation with a Hill coefficient of approximately 3-4. However, the concentration of GTP at the half-maximal activation (Kd) was 0.2 microM in the Cl- and 10 microM in the SO4(2-) solution. On the other hand, the quasi-steady-state relationship between the concentration of guanosine-5'-o-(3-thiotriphosphate) and the channel activity did not differ significantly between the Cl- and SO4(2-) solutions; i.e., the Hill coefficient was approximately 3-4 and the Kd was approximately 0.06-0.08 microM in both solutions. The decay of channel activity after washout of GTP in the Cl- solution was much slower than that in the SO4(2-) solution. These results suggest that intracellular Cl- does not affect the turn-on reaction but slows the turn-off reaction of GK, resulting in higher sensitivity of the KACh channel for GTP. In the Cl- solution, even in the absence of agonists, GTP (greater than 1 microM) or ATP (greater than 1 mM) alone caused activation of the KACh channel, while neither occurred in the SO4(2-) solution. These observations suggest that the activation of the KACh channel by the basal turn-on reaction of GK or by phosphate transfer to GK by nucleoside diphosphate-kinase may depend at least partly on the intracellular concentration of Cl-.

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