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You are watching: Voltage gated na+ channels are membrane channels that open

Opening of Voltage Gated channels Produces activity Potentials

The subunits of voltage-gated ion channels change conformation in accordance through membrane potential. This can result in the opened of a spicy that permits a specific ion come pass with the membrane.

Two types of voltage-gated channels play a role in producing action potentials: those that allow sodium to overcome the membrane (voltage-gated sodium channels) and those that allow potassium to overcome the membrane (voltage-gated potassium channels).


Voltage-gated networks are not usually existing in the dendrites or the soma, but are concentrated in the early stage segment the the axon (axon hillock). Both inhibitory and also excitatory postsynaptic potentials are summed in the axon hillock. If the inside of the axon hillock is sufficiently depolarized (becomes less negatively charged), the Na+ channels open and allow Na+ to get in the neuron. Due to the fact that Na+ concentration is low within the cell (due come the action of the sodium-potassium pump) and the within of the cabinet is negatively charged, Na+ rushes indigenous the outside to the inside of the cell.


Voltage-gated Na+ channels have two gates: an activation gate and also an inactivation gate. The activation gate opens easily when the membrane is depolarized, and allows Na+ to enter. However, the same change in membrane potential also causes the inactivation door to close. The closure that the inactivation door is slower 보다 the opened of the activation gate. Together a result, the channel is open up for a an extremely brief time (from the opened of the activation door to the closure the the inactivation gate).

Another necessary characteristic that the sodium channel inactivation process is that the inactivation gate will not reopen until the membrane potential return to the original resting membrane potential level. Therefore, that is not feasible for the sodium channels to open again without first repolarizing the nerve fiber.


When the Na+ channels are open up at the axon hillock, the local membrane potential easily becomes positive. It viewpoints the equilibrium potential because that Na+, yet does not reach it before the channels inactivate.

When the membrane in ~ the axon hillock becomes depolarized, an opening of voltage-gated K+ channels also occurs. Because K+ is in high concentration within the neuron, K+ diffuses external through the channel. However, due to the fact that of a delay in opening the K+ channels, they open at about the very same time the the Na+ networks are closing because of inactivation. Thus, the decrease in sodium entry to the cell and the simultaneous boost in potassium departure from the cell incorporate to rate the repolarization process, bring about recovery of the resting membrane potential.


This figure summarizes the events that happen during and after the activity potential. The bottom of the figure shows the changes in membrane conductance because that Na+ and also K+ ions. Throughout the relaxing state, the conductance for K+ ion is 50–100 times better than the conductance for Na+ ions. This is because of leakage the K+ ions v the leak channels. In ~ the start of the action potential, Na+ sodium networks open and allow up come a 5000-fold rise in Na+ conductance. The inactivation process then closes the Na+ channels. The onset of the action potential likewise triggers voltage gating of the K+ channels, resulting in them to open up at the time the Na+ channels close. This produce a 30-fold increase in K+ conductance. In ~ the finish of the action potential, the return of the membrane potential to the negative state reasons the K+ networks to near slowly.

A usual feature of activity potentials is an afterhyperpolarization. As detailed in the membrane potential module, the main element that to adjust the relaxing membrane potential is the activity of K+ ions with leak channels. When the voltage-gated K+ networks are open, the conductance for K+ is greater than throughout the resting state. As a result, the membrane potential approaches the equilibrium potential because that K+ (is an ext negative 보다 in the resting state), bring about the afterhyperpolarization. As quickly as the voltage-gated K+ networks close, the conductance because that K+ is reduced and the membrane potential return to normal relaxing values.

Note that after the relaxing membrane potential is restored, a short period elapses before the inactivation gateways of the voltage-gated Na+ networks open. If the inactivation door is closed, the is difficult for a brand-new action potential to it is in elicited. This duration is called the absolute refractory period.

As noted above, the voltage-gated K+ networks close progressively after the membrane has been repolarized. Consequently, the K+ conductance is higher (and the neuronal membrane is much more hyperpolarized) at the end of the action than in the normal resting state. Together a result, that is more challenging to generate the quantity of depolarization necessary to open up the activation gates. This period of higher K+ conductance in ~ the end of an activity potential results in a relative refractory period, during which that is possible to elicit an activity potential, return a strong excitation is must do so.

Saltatory Conduction in Myelinated Axons


Many neurons have myelin bordering the axon. Myelin is a fatty white problem deposited through glial cells that insulates the axon, to decrease the leak of current through the axonal membrane. The voltage-gated networks described over are located between adjacent myelin sheaths. An unmyelinated area of membrane in ~ the gaps in between myelin sheaths, which has voltage-gated channels, is referred to as a node that Ranvier.

Myelination permits a bolus of sodium that enters v voltage-gated Na+ networks to move conveniently down the axon without leaking out really much. Another activity potential wake up at the next node of Ranvier under the axon, refresh the process. As such, the activity potential shows up to "leap" between the nodes of Ranvier, in a procedure called saltatory conduction.

Saltatory conduction permits electrical nerve signals to it is in propagated long ranges at high prices without any type of degradation the the signal. In addition, the procedure is energy-efficient, together perturbations in the regular compartmentalization that Na+ and K+ only take place at the nodes that Ranvier. Be afflicted with in mind the after an activity potential, the sodium-potassium pump needs to restore the common ionic balance throughout the membrane. Minimizing the need to do this to reduce ATP expenditure.

Now you should have the ability to understand the the refractory period for axons defined in the section over has a an extremely practical physiological purpose: it assures that activity potentials move in one direction under the axon. Once an action potential is produced at one node the Ranvier, the vault node is tho in a refractory period. Return sodium ions entering at a node diffusive in both directions under the axon, the previously-activated node cannot create an activity potential. This is vital in assuring that an excitatory input come a neuron does not an outcome in a reverberating series of activity potentials.

Unmyelinated Axons Conduct action Potentials Slowly

In comparison to myelinated axons, unmyelinated neurons need to "refresh" the activity potential in every successive patch of membrane. Thus, a recurring entry the Na+ ions and also efflux the K+ ion occurs under the axon. The ionic redistribution is revived to the resting state by the sodium-potassium pump, but this requires a huge amount that energy.

This might be the factor why unmyelinated axons have a tiny diameter. If an unmyelinated axon to be of large diameter, the surface ar area would certainly be huge and countless voltage-gated channels would be needed on the surface. As soon as an action potential occurred, the activity of ions would certainly be large, and a significant amount the ATP would certainly be necessary to fuel the activity of the sodium-potassium pump to gain back ionic balance.

Two major factors govern how easily an action potential moves downs an axon:

that is diameter how heavily myelinated that is

In general, the largest axons are additionally the most heavily myelinated, and propagate activity potentials really rapidly. The the smallest axons room unmyelinated and also propagate activity potentials slowly.

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How do the amount of myelination and the diameter of one axon recognize its conduction velocity?

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