Eel Electroplaques: Spike Electrogenesis without Potassium Activation

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Science  09 Oct 1964:
Vol. 146, Issue 3641, pp. 266-268
DOI: 10.1126/science.146.3641.266


Measurements with the voltage clamp technique demonstrate that only an early conductance increase occurs during spike electrogenesis of eel electroplaques. The delayed increase which is characteristic of spike electrogenesis in many other cells is absent. Instead, the membrane resistance increases two- to threefold above its resting value. The brief initial increase in conductance is due to sodium activation followed by rapid sodium inactivation. The influx of sodium causes an inward current of up to 80 ma/cm2. The inward current is abolished by eliminating the sodium from the normal medium (substitution of choline chloride for NaCl); by blocking sodium activation with tetrodotoxin; or by causing sodium inactivation through enrichment of the potassium in the medium. The delayed increase in membrane resistance is not affected by eliminating sodium influx, nor by substituting various impermeable anions for the chlorine of the normal medium. Thus, the increase in resistance signifies the occurrence of potassium inactivation which is unmasked by the absence of potassium activation.