The patch-clamp technique was used to characterize channels that could contribute to the resting Cl-conductance in the surface membrane of cultured rat skeletal muscle. Two Cl- -selective channels, in addition to the Cl- -selective channel of large conductance described previously (Blatz and Magleby, 1983), were observed. One of these channels had fast kinetics and a conductance of 45 +/- 1.8 pS (SE) in symmetrical 100 mM KCl. The other had slow kinetics and a conductance of 61 +/- 2.4 pS. The channel with fast kinetics typically closed within 1 ms after opening and flickered between the open and shut states. The channel with slow kinetics typically closed within 10 ms after opening and displayed less flickering. Both channels were active in excised patches of membrane held at potentials similar to resting membrane potentials in intact cells, and both were open a greater percentage of time with depolarization. Under conditions of high ion concentrations, both channels exhibited nonideal selectivity for Cl- over K+ with the permeability ratio PK/PCl of 0.15–0.2. Additional experiments on the fast Cl- channel indicated that its activity decreased with lowered pHi and that SO2–4 and CH3SO-4 were ineffective charge carriers. These findings, plus the observation that the fast Cl- channel was also active in membrane patches on intact cells, suggest that the fast Cl- channel provides a molecular basis for at least some of the resting Cl- conductance. The extent to which the slow Cl- channel contributes is less clear as it was typically active only after excised patches of membrane had been exposed to high concentrations of KCl at the inner membrane surface.
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