Activation by curare of acetylcholine receptor channels in a murine skeletal muscle cell line

Biology Department, University of Ottawa, Ont., Canada.
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 1.77). 03/1989; 67(2):152-8. DOI: 10.1139/y89-025
Source: PubMed


Curare action on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors has a number of facets, of which the best known is competitive antagonism. Here we describe the weak agonist action of 10(-5) M curare on the murine skeletal muscle cell line, G8. Although curare induces no depolarization in G8 cells, single-channel recordings reveal short-lived curare-induced currents. A feature of these brief events is the multiplicity of conductance levels (of the four levels with conductances of 48, 37, 14, and 6 pS, none had a lifetime greater than 1.5 ms). Most well-resolved events (about 17% of which are to a subconductance) last less than 0.5 ms, with activation occurring predominantly as isolated events rather than in bursts. Agonism is not, however, a high probability action for curare: calculations based on the frequency of events at half-saturating conditions suggest that curare-induced channel openings occur during less than 1% of acetylcholine receptor-curare binding episodes. The outcome is (a) an agonist action too feeble to perturb the membrane voltage and (b) a powerful competitive antagonist action.

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