The Journal of general physiology

Conduction and block by organic cations in a K+-selective channel from sarcoplasmic reticulum incorporated into planar phospholipid bilayers.

PMID 6279756


A collection of organic cations has been used to probe the gross structural features of the ionic diffusion pathway in a K+-selective channel from sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). Channels were incorporated into planar phospholipid bilayer membranes, and single-channel currents were measured in the presence of ammonium-derived cations in the aqueous phases. Small monovalent organic cations are able to permeate the channel: the channel conductance drops sharply for cations having molecular cross sections larger than 18-20 A2. Impermeant or poorly permeant cations such as tetraethylammonium, choline, and glucosamine, among others, block K+ conduction through the channel. This block is voltage dependent and can be described by a one-site, one-ion blocking scheme. 19 monovalent organic cations blocks primarily from the trans side of the membrane (the side defined as zero voltage), and much more weakly, if at all, from the cis side (to which SR vesicles are added). These blockers all appear to interact with a site located at 63% (average value) of the electric potential drop measured from the trans side. Furthermore, block by 1,3-bis[tris(hydroxymethyl)-methylamino] propane (BTP) shows that the presence of a blocking ion increases the duration of the apparent open state, as expected for a scheme in which the blocking site can be reached only when the channel is open. The results lead to a picture of the channel containing a wide (at least 50 A2) nonselective trans entry in series with a narrow (20 A2) constriction.