We have recently reported that voltage-activated fluxes of Na, K, and Ca occur in human red blood cells [J.A. Halperin, C. Brugnara, M. Tosteson, T. Van Ha, and D. C. Tosteson. Am. J. Physiol. 257 (Cell Physiol. 26): C986-C996, 1989]. The cation permeability increases progressively as the membrane potential becomes more inside positive above +20 mV. In this paper we show that this effect also occurs in high-potassium (HK), but not in low-potassium (LK), sheep and dog red blood cells. This result suggests that the voltage-activated cation transport pathway is not the result of nonspecific dielectric breakdown of the lipid bilayer but, rather, relates to some membrane component, presumably a protein, that is expressed in HK human and sheep but not in LK sheep and dog red blood cells.
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