The purpose of the present study was to examine the characteristics of Na+ channel modification by batrachotoxin (BTX) in cardiac cells, including changes in channel gating and kinetics as well as susceptibility to block by local anesthetic agents. We used the whole cell configuration of the patch clamp technique to measure Na+ current in guinea pig myocytes. Extracellular Na+ concentration and temperature were lowered (5–10 mM, 17 degrees C) in order to maintain good voltage control. Our results demonstrated that 1) BTX modifies cardiac INa, causing a substantial steady-state (noninactivating) component of INa, 2) modification of cardiac Na+ channels by BTX shifts activation to more negative potentials and reduces both maximal gNa and selectivity for Na+; 3) binding of BTX to its receptor in the cardiac Na+ channel reduces the affinity of local anesthetics for their binding site; and 4) BTX-modified channels show use-dependent block by local anesthetics. The reduced blocking potency of local anesthetics for BTX-modified Na+ channels probably results from an allosteric interaction between BTX and local anesthetics for their respective binding sites in the Na+ channel. Our observations that use-dependent block by local anesthetics persists in BTX-modified Na+ channels suggest that this form of extra block can occur in the virtual absence of the inactivated state. Thus, the development of use-dependent block appears to rely primarily on local anesthetic binding to activated Na+ channels under these conditions.
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