Fast inactivation of Nav current in rat adrenal chromaffin cells involves two independent inactivation pathways



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Rockefeller University Press



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Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaiso




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Voltage-dependent sodium (Nav) current in adrenal chromaffin cells (CCs) is rapidly inactivating and tetrodotoxin (TTX)–sensitive. The fractional availability of CC Nav current has been implicated in regulation of action potential (AP) frequency and the occurrence of slow-wave burst firing. Here, through recordings of Nav current in rat CCs, primarily in adrenal medullary slices, we describe unique inactivation properties of CC Nav inactivation that help define AP firing rates in CCs. The key feature of CC Nav current is that recovery from inactivation, even following brief (5 ms) inactivation steps, exhibits two exponential components of similar amplitude. Various paired pulse protocols show that entry into the fast and slower recovery processes result from largely independent competing inactivation pathways, each of which occurs with similar onset times at depolarizing potentials. Over voltages from −120 to −80 mV, faster recovery varies from ∼3 to 30 ms, while slower recovery varies from ∼50 to 400 ms. With strong depolarization (above −10 mV), the relative entry into slow or fast recovery pathways is similar and independent of voltage. Trains of short depolarizations favor recovery from fast recovery pathways and result in cumulative increases in the slow recovery fraction. Dual-pathway fast inactivation, by promoting use-dependent accumulation in slow recovery pathways, dynamically regulates Nav availability. Consistent with this finding, repetitive AP clamp waveforms at 1–10 Hz frequencies reduce Nav availability 80–90%, depending on holding potential. These results indicate that there are two distinct pathways of fast inactivation, one leading to conventional fast recovery and the other to slower recovery, which together are well-suited to mediate use-dependent changes in Nav availability.


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© 2021 Martinez-Espinosa et al. This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at

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