An analysis of the ultraviolet light-induced changes in ionic conductances of lobster giant axon membranes has been carried out using the double sucrose gap voltage-clamp technique. The predominant effect of monochromatic light from a xenon arc source in the 255 to 305 nm region is an irreversible reduction in the magnitude of sodium conductance, without change in sodium channel activation or inactivation kinetics. A considerably smaller reduction in the magnitude of potassium conductance occurs, with some slowing of potassium channel activation kinetics. Leakage conductance is essentially not altered. The fall in sodium conductance follows an exponential time course toward a zero asymptote. The rate constant for conductance decrease was used as an assay for the wavelength dependence. The sodium conductance was maximally sensitive at 290 nm. It is suggested that individual sodium channels are closed upon absorption of single photons by aromatic amino acid residues in membrane proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology