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Inwardly permeating Na ions generate the voltage dependence of resurgent Na current in cerebellar Purkinje neurons.

Teresa K Aman, Indira M Raman

J. Neurosci., 2010 Apr 21 , 30, 5629-34

Voltage-gated Na channels of cerebellar Purkinje neurons express an endogenous open-channel blocking protein. This blocker binds channels at positive potentials and unbinds at negative potentials, generating a resurgent Na current and permitting rapid firing. The macroscopic voltage dependence of resurgent current raises the question of whether the blocker directly senses membrane potential or whether voltage dependence is conferred indirectly. Because we previously found that inwardly permeating Na ions facilitate dissociation of the blocker, we measured voltage-clamped currents in different Na gradients to test the role of permeating ions in generating the voltage dependence of unblock. In reverse gradients, outward resurgent currents were tiny or absent, suggesting that unblock normally requires "knockoff" by Na. Inward resurgent currents at strongly negative potentials, however, were larger in reverse than in control gradients. Moreover, occupancy of the blocked state was prolonged both in reverse gradients and in control gradients with reduced Na concentrations, indicating that block is more stable when inward currents are small. Accordingly, reverse gradients shifted the voltage dependence of block, such that resurgent currents were evoked even after conditioning at negative potentials. Additionally, in control gradients, peak resurgent currents decreased linearly with driving force during the conditioning step, suggesting that the stability of block varies directly with inward Na current amplitude. Thus, the voltage dependence of blocker unbinding results almost entirely from repulsion by Na ions occupying the external pore. The lack of voltage sensitivity of the blocking protein suggests that the blocker's binding site lies outside the membrane field, in the permeation pathway.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20410115