The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 361–380 | Cite as

Mitochondrial uncoupling agents

Effects on membrane permeability of molluscan neurons
  • Jeffery L. Barker
  • Herbert Levitan


Agents which uncouple oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria were applied to identified neurons in an isolated ganglion of the marine molluscNavanax inermis. Aromatic monocarboxylic acids, acetanilides, benzamides, benzaldehydes and phenols all caused a rapid, reversible, dose-dependent increase in the membrane potential and conductance of the neurons tested. These events were due primarily to an increase in the membrane's conductance to potassium, relative to chloride. All active compounds also produced a reversible, dose-dependent decrease in the permeability of alkali-cations relative to potassium. The relative activity of congeners in each group of substances was directly correlated with the octanol-water partition coefficients of the various compounds, indicating that hydrophobicity was important in determining drug effect and suggesting that steric requirements were minimal. The results suggest that the observed changes in membrane electrical properties and cation selectivity are due to an increase in the membrane's anionic field strength caused by the hydrophobic interaction of anionic and nonionic agents with the neuronal membrane.


Partition Coefficient Benzaldehyde Oxidative Phosphorylation Benzamides Neuronal Membrane 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffery L. Barker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Herbert Levitan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavioral Biology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentNational Institutes of HealthBethesda
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MarylandCollege Park

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