The time course of synaptic currents is significantly longer in slow than in fast twitch muscle fibers. To examine the underlying basis for these slow synaptic currents, single-channel recordings were made from the synapses of slow muscle fibers. Our analysis indicates that low conductance acetylcholine receptor (AChR) channels predominate in innervated slow fibers. The high level of expression of low conductance channels is in contrast to fast twitch fibers, in which these channels are expressed in significant numbers only in embryonic or denervated muscle. Analysis of the distribution of open durations for the low conductance channel class suggests that the open time of this AChR class is the major determinant in shaping the slow time course of synaptic current decay. The predominant contribution of low conductance channel openings to synaptic currents of slow muscle fibers indicates a well-defined physiological role for this class of AChRs.
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