Trinitrophenol (TNP) selectively alters the sodium conductance system of lobster giant axons as measured in current clamp and voltage clamp experiments using the double sucrose gap technique. TNP has no measurable effect on potassium currents but reversibly prolongs the time-course of sodium currents during maintained depolarizations over the full voltage range of observable currents. Action potential durations are increased also. Τm of the Hodgkin-Huxley model is not markedly altered during activation of the sodium conductance but is prolonged during removal of activation by repolarization, as observed in sodium tail experiments. The sodium inactivation versus voltage curve is shifted in the hyperpolarizing direction as is the inactivation time constant curve, measured with conditioning voltage steps. This shift speeds the kinetics of inactivation over part of the same voltage range in which sodium currents are prolonged, a contradiction incompatible with the Hodgkin- Huxley model. These results are interpreted as support for a hypothesis of two inactivation processes, one proceeding directly from the resting state and the other coupled to the active state of sodium conductance.
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