This study examined the single-channel basis of slow inactivation of Na+ currents (INa) in rat fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers. A loose patch voltage clamp monitored changes in the maximum inward INa as the holding potential of the membrane patch changed. On a neighboring region of extrajunctional membrane of the same fiber, a gigaohm seal patch voltage clamp recorded single-channel INa. The maximum number of simultaneously open Na+ channels among a group of current traces indicated the maximum number of excitable channels. The holding potentials of the two voltage clamps were the same. Slow inactivation did not affect the open time or conductance of single Na+ channels. The number of excitable Na+ channels reversibly decreased during development of slow inactivation of INa and increased during recovery from slow inactivation of INa. Different stimulation protocols examined whether Na+ channels had to be in the closed, open, or fast-inactivated states to enter the slow-inactivated state. Na+ channels appear to be able to enter the slow-inactivated state from the closed, open, or fast-inactivated state.
- Copyright © 1996 the American Physiological Society