The Journal of general physiology

Quaternary organic amines inhibit Na,K pump current in a voltage-dependent manner: direct evidence of an extracellular access channel in the Na,K-ATPase.

PMID 14981136


The effects of organic quaternary amines, tetraethylammonium (TEA) chloride and benzyltriethylammonium (BTEA) chloride, on Na,K pump current were examined in rat cardiac myocytes superfused in extracellular Na(+)-free solutions and whole-cell voltage-clamped with patch electrodes containing a high Na(+)-salt solution. Extracellular application of these quaternary amines competitively inhibited extracellular K(+) (K(+)(o)) activation of Na,K pump current; however, the concentration for half maximal inhibition of Na,K pump current at 0 mV (K(0)(Q)) by BTEA, 4.0 +/- 0.3 mM, was much lower than the K(0)(Q) for TEA, 26.6 +/- 0.7 mM. Even so, the fraction of the membrane electric field dissipated during K(+)(o) activation of Na,K pump current (lambda(K)), 39 +/- 1%, was similar to lambda(K) determined in the presence of TEA (37 +/- 2%) and BTEA (35 +/- 2%), an indication that the membrane potential (V(M)) dependence for K(+)(o) activation of the Na,K pump current was unaffected by TEA and BTEA. TEA was found to inhibit the Na,K pump current in a V(M)-independent manner, i.e., inhibition of current dissipated 4 +/- 2% of the membrane electric field. In contrast, BTEA dissipated 40 +/- 5% of the membrane electric field during inhibition of Na,K pump current. Thus, BTEA inhibition of the Na,K-ATPase is V(M)-dependent. The competitive nature of inhibition as well as the similar fractions of the membrane electric field dissipated during K(+)(o)-dependent activation and BTEA-dependent inhibition of Na,K pump current suggest that BTEA inhibits the Na,K-ATPase at or very near the enzyme's K(+)(o) binding site(s) located in the membrane electric field. Given previous findings that organic quaternary amines are not occluded by the Na,K-ATPase, these data clearly demonstrate that an ion channel-like structure provides access to K(+)(o) binding sites in the enzyme.