Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Currents Related to Movement of the Gating Particles of the Sodium Channels


“…IT seems difficult to escape the conclusion that the changes in ionic permeability depend on the movement of some component of the membrane which behaves as though it had a large charge or dipole moment”1. With these words Hodgkin and Huxley predicted the existence of gating currents: charge movement associated with molecular rearrangements that attend the opening and closing of the ionic channels in response to changes in the membrane field. The polarity of gating current of the sodium channels can be easily predicted: following a positive step change of membrane voltage, positively charged gating particles would move outward through the membrane field from closed to open position (or negatively charged particles would move inward), yielding an outward current. On repolarization after a voltage step that opened the channels, gating current would be inward, as particles moved from open to closed position. Hodgkin and Huxley were unable to observe gating currents experimentally, and concluded that the density of ionic channels in the membrane must be low. A later attempt by Chandler and Meves2 to detect such currents was also unsuccessful, and they estimated that there are less than 100 sodium channels μm−2, a prediction that has been borne out by later estimates of sodium channel density3,4. We report here that by use of signal averaging techniques, we have observed small transient currents which we believe are the gating currents of the sodium channels.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Hodgkin, A. L., and Huxley, A. F., J. Physiol., 117, 500 (1952).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Chandler, W. K., and Meves, H., J. Physiol., 180, 788 (1965).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Moore, J. W., Narahashi, T., and Shaw, T., J. Physiol., 188, 99 (1965).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Keynes, R. D., Ritchie, J. M., and Rojas, E., J. Physiol., 213, 235 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Hille, B., Nature, 210, 1220 (1966).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Takata, M., Moore, J. W., Kao, C. Y., and Fuhrman, F. A., J. Gen. Physiol., 49, 977 (1966).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Schneider, M., and Chandler, W. K., Nature (in the press).

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

ARMSTRONG, C., BEZANILLA, F. Currents Related to Movement of the Gating Particles of the Sodium Channels. Nature 242, 459–461 (1973).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing