By Jandial, Rahul; Neman, Josh; Snyder, Evan Y.; Toy, Eugene C
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Indd 26 7/30/14 7:33 PM SECTION II: Clinical Cases 27 potential and each ion’s permeability coefficient, which is the ease with which the ions pass across the cell membrane: Vm = RT/F × ln (pK[K+]out + pNa[Na+]out + pCl[Cl−]out)/(pK[K+]in + pNa[Na+]in + pCl[Cl−]in) where the permeability coefficient for a specific ion is represented by pK, pNa, and pCl. If we are to take a hypothetical cell membrane with only resting potassium channels open, we would find that K+ ions leave the cell because of its concentration gradient.
In the end, the layers of the cell membrane are opposed and are secured in place by proteins, such as myelin basic protein, proteolipid protein, and protein zero, that are embedded in the lipid membrane. At the nodes of Ranvier, the myelin sheaths meet but do not join. In this region, the axon is exposed to the extracellular environment. The voltage-gated ion channels necessary for the saltatory conduction of the action potential are concentrated in this region of the axon. A typical action potential lasts for less than 1 ms and is elicited in an allor-nothing fashion.
However, since the permeability of the membrane to Na+ is considerably less than that of K+ (roughly 100 times less), the primary driving force of the membrane potential is K+. 3 A. The Na+/K+ATPase pump maintains the resting potential. Because the neuronal membrane is permeable to both Na+ and K+, the ions slowly diffuse down their electrochemical gradients at rest, and without compensatory mechanism the membrane potential would eventually reach zero. However, there is a mechanism that counteracts this diffusion: the Na+/K+ ATPase pump, which transports Na+ out of cells and K+ into cells, against their concentration gradients.