The fast inactivation of sodium currents and the immobolization of sodium gating charge are thought to be closely coupled to each other. This notion was tested in the squid axon in which kinetics and steady-state properties of the gating charge movement were compared before and after removal of the Na inactivation by batrachotoxin (BTX), pronase, or chloramine-T. The immobilization of gating charge was determined by measuring the total charge movement (QON) obtained by integrating the ON gating current (Ig,ON) using a double pulse protocol. After removal of the fast inactivation with pronase or chloramine-T, the gating charge movement was no longer immobilized. In contrast, after BTX modification, the channels still exhibited an immobilization of the gating charge (QON) with an onset time course and voltage dependence similar to that for the activation process. These results show that BTX can uncouple the charge immobilization from the fast Na inactivation mechanism, suggesting that the Na gating charge movement can be immobilized independently of the inactivation of the channel.
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