Kinetics of voltage-gated ionic channels fundamentally reflect the response of the channels to local electric fields. In this report cell- attached patch-clamp studies reveal that the voltage-dependent activation rate of sodium channels residing in the growth cone membrane differs from that of soma sodium channels in differentiating N1E-115 neuroblastoma cells. Because other electrophysiological properties of these channels do not differ, this finding may be a reflection of the difference in intramembrane electric field in these two regions of the cell. This represents a new mechanism for channels to attain a range of activities both within and between cells.
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