Plasma Membrane Potential of Animal Cells Generated by Ion Pumping, Not by Ion Gradients

  • C. L. Bashford
  • C. A. Pasternak


The plasma membrane potential of animal cells is generally thought to be generated predominantly by the diffusion of K+ out of cells (Williams, 1970), with only very minor contributions from the diffusion of other ions or from an electrogenic Na+ pump (Thomas, 1972; Lew et al., 1979). The experiments to be described show that this view is no longer universally applicable, and that plasma membrane potential of at least two cell types, — a mouse tumour cell and human neutrophils, — arises predominantly from electrogenic pumping of Na+ and, to a lesser extent, of H+. In such cells electrical and osmotic stability are preserved by the operation of anion leak and electroneutral ion transport pathways (Bashford & Pasternak, 1984, 1985a,b).


Membrane Potential Null Point Sendai Virus Plasma Membrane Potential Endocytic Vesicle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. L. Bashford
    • 1
  • C. A. Pasternak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistrySt George’s Hospital Medical SchoolCranmer Terrace, LondonUK

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