In the experiments here, the detailed kinetic properties of the Ca2+-independent, depolarization-activated outward currents (Iout) in enzymatically dispersed adult rat atrial myocytes were studied. Although there is only slight attenuation of peak Iout during brief (100 ms) voltage steps, substantial decay is evident during long (10s) depolarizations. The analyses here reveal that current inactivation is best described by the sum of two exponential components, which we have termed Ikf and Iks to denote the fast and slow components, respectively, Of Iout decay. At all test potentials, Ira inactivates ~20-fold more rapidly than Ikf. Neither the decay time constants nor the fraction of Iout remaining at the end of 10-5 depolarizations varies over the potential range of 0 to + 50 mV, indicating that the rates of inactivation and recovery from inactivation are voltage independent. Ira recovers from inactivation completely, independent of the recovery of Iks, and Ikf recovers ~ 20 times faster than Iks. The pharmacological properties of Iks and Ikf are similar: both components are sensitive to 4-aminopyridine (1-5 mM) and both are relatively resistant to externally applied tetraethylammonium (50 mM). Taken together, these findings suggest that Ikf and Iks correspond to two functionally distinct K+ currents with similar voltage-dependent properties and pharmacologic sensitivities, but with markedly different rates of inactivation and recovery from inactivation. From the experimental data, several gating models were developed in which voltage-independent inactivation is coupled either to channel opening or to the activation of the individual channel subunits. Experimental testing of predictions of these models suggests that voltage-independent inactivation is coupled to activation, and that inactivation of only a single subunit is required to result in functional inactivation of the channels. This model closely approximates the properties of Ikf and Iks, as well as the composite outward currents, measured in adult rat atrial myocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1067
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1992


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