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Na+-activated K+ channels in small dorsal root ganglion neurones of rat.

U Bischoff, W Vogel, B V Safronov

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 1998 Aug 1 , 510 ( Pt 3), 743-54

1. Whole-cell Na+-activated K+ (KNa) channel currents and single KNa channels were studied with the patch-clamp method in small (20-25 micrometer) dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurones in slices of rat dorsal root ganglia. 2. The whole-cell KNa channel current was identified as an additional K+-selective leakage current which appeared after cell perfusion with internal solutions containing different [Na+]. The concentration for half-maximal activation of KNa channel current was 39 mM and the Hill coefficient was 3.5. At [Na+]i above 12 mM, KNa channel current dominated the unspecific leakage current. The ratio of maximum KNa channel current to unspecific leakage current was 45. 3. KNa channel current was not activated by internal Li+. It was suppressed by external 20 mM Cs+ but not by 10 mM tetraethylammonium. 4. Single KNa channels with a conductance of 142 pS in 155 mM external K+ (K+o)-85 mM internal K+ (K+i) solutions were observed at a high density of about 2 channels micrometer-2. 5. In two-electrode experiments, a direct correlation was seen between development of whole- cell KNa channel current and activation of single KNa channels during perfusion of the neurone with Na+-containing internal solution. 6. Under current-clamp conditions, KNa channels did not contribute to the action potential. However, internal perfusion of the neurone with Na+ shifted the resting potential towards the equilibrium potential for K+ (EK). Varying external [K+] indicated that in neurones perfused with Na+-containing internal solution the resting potential followed the EK values predicted by the Nernst equation over a broader voltage range than in neurones perfused with Na+-free solution. 7. It is concluded that the function of KNa channels has no links to firing behaviour but that the channels could be involved in setting or stabilizing the resting potential in small DRG neurones.