Veratridine modification of Na current was examined in single dissociated ventricular myocytes from late-fetal rats. Extracellularly applied veratridine reduced peak Na current and induced a noninactivating current during the depolarizing pulse and an inward tail current that decayed exponentially (tau = 226 ms) after repolarization. The effect was quantitated as tail current amplitude, Itail (measured 10 ms after repolarization), relative to the maximum amplitude induced by a combination of 100 microM veratridine and 1 microM BDF 9145 (which removes inactivation) in the same cell. Saturation curves for Itail were predicted on the assumption of reversible veratridine binding to open Na channels during the pulse with reaction rate constants determined previously in the same type of cell at single Na channels comodified with BDF 9145. Experimental relationships between veratridine concentration and Itail confirmed those predicted by showing (a) half-maximum effect near 60 microM veratridine and no saturation up to 300 microM in cells with normally inactivating Na channels, and (b) half-maximum effect near 3.5 microM and saturation at 30 microM in cells treated with BDF 9145. Due to its known suppressive effect on single channel conductance, veratridine induced a progressive, but partial reduction of noninactivating Na current during the 50-ms depolarizations in the presence of BDF 9145, the kinetics of which were consistent with veratridine association kinetics in showing a decrease in time constant from 57 to 22 and 11 ms, when veratridine concentration was raised from 3 to 10 and 30 microM, respectively. As predicted for a dissociation process, the tail current time constant was insensitive to veratridine concentration in the range from 1 to 300 microM. In conclusion, we have shown that macroscopic Na current of a veratridine-treated cardiomyocyte can be quantitatively predicted on the assumption of a direct relationship between veratridine binding dynamics and Na current and as such can be successfully used to analyze molecular properties of the veratridine receptor site at the cardiac Na channel.

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