, Volume 414, Issue 5, pp 564-570

Permeability of the non-selective channel in brown adipocytes to small cations

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The non-selective channel for monovalent cations of cultured brown adipocytes was studied concerning its permeability to alkali metal ions, NH 4 + , Tris+, Ca2+, and Ba2+. Experiments were done by means of the patch clamp technique using inside-out patches. With symmetrically increasing sodium concentrations the ion fluxes saturated. They are described by a dissociation constant (K Na) of 155 mmol/l and a maximum single channel conductance of 50 pS. Permeabilities were determined in relation to those for sodium yielding values of 0.80 for potassium and 1.55 for ammonium. The complete permeability sequence for ammonium and the alkali metals is: NH 4 + >Na+>Li+ >K+≥Rb+≃Cs+·Ca2+ and Ba2+ as well as the buffer ion Tris+ are not able to pass the channel measurably. It is shown that the conductance behaviour of the non-selective channel is not sufficiently described by the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz theory. Deviations from independence are saturation with increased activity of the permeant ion and non-linear current voltage relations in symmetrical solutions. A simple two barrier model with one binding site in the center of the electric field is shown to be more appropriate.