Augmentation of recovery from inactivation by site-3 Na channel toxins. A single-channel and whole-cell study of persistent currents

G. Richard Benzinger, Gayle S. Tonkovich, Dorothy A. Hanck

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45 Scopus citations


Site-3 toxins isolated from several species of scorpion and sea anemone bind to voltage-gated Na channels and prolong the time course of I(Na) by interfering with inactivation with little or no effect on activation, effects that have similarities to those produced by genetic diseases in skeletal muscle (myotonias and periodic paralysis) and heart (long QT syndrome). Some published reports have also reported the presence of a noninactivating persistent current in site-3 toxin-treated cells. We have used the high affinity site-3 toxin Anthopleurin B to study the kinetics of this current and to evaluate kinetic differences between cardiac (in RT4-B8 cells) and neuronal (in N1E-115 cells) Na channels. By reverse transcription-PCR from N1E-115 cell RNA multiple Na channel transcripts were detected; most often isolated were sequences homologous to rBrII, although at low frequency sequences homologous to rPNI and rBrIII were also detected. Toxin treatment induced a voltage-dependent plateau current in both isoforms for which the relative amplitude (plateau current/peak current) approached a constant value with depolarization, although the magnitude was much greater for neuronal (17%) than cardiac (5%) I(Na). Cell-attached patch recordings revealed distinct quantitative differences in open times and burst durations between isoforms, but for both isoforms the plateau current comprised discrete bursts separated by quiescent periods, consistent with toxin induction of an increase in the rate of recovery from inactivation rather than a modal failure of inactivation. In accord with this hypothesis, toxin increased the rate of whole-cell recovery at all tested voltages. Moreover, experimental data support a model whereby recovery at negative voltages is augmented through closed states rather than through the open state. We conclude that site-3 toxins produce qualitatively similar effects in cardiac and neuronal channels and discuss implications for channel kinetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-346
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999


  • Cnidarian venoms
  • Patch clamp
  • Sea anemone toxin
  • Voltage clamp


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