The membrane potential of isolated muscle fibers was controlled with a two-electrode voltage clamp, and the radial extent of contraction elicited by depolarizing pulses of increasing magnitude was observed microscopically. Depolarizations of the fiber surface only 1–2 mv greater than the contraction threshold produced shortening throughout the entire cross-section of the muscle fiber. The radial spread of contraction was less effective in fibers exposed to tetrodotoxin or to a bathing medium with a greatly reduced sodium concentration. The results provide evidence that depolarization of a muscle fiber produces an increase in sodium conductance in the T tubule membrane and that the resultant sodium current contributes to the spread of depolarization along the T system
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