Relationship Between Inorganic Ion Distribution, Resting Membrane Potential, and the ΔG' of ATP Hydrolysis: a New Paradigm

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Cell membrane potential and inorganic ion distributions are currently viewed from a kinetic electric paradigm, which ignores thermodynamics. The resting membrane potential is viewed as a diffusion potential. The 9 major inorganic ions found in blood plasma (Ca2+, Na+, Mg2+, K+, H+, Cl-, HCO3-, H2PO4-, and HPO42-) are distributed unequally across the plasma membrane. This unequal distribution requires the energy of ATP hydrolysis through the action of the Na+-K+ ATPase. The cell resting membrane potential in each of 3 different tissues with widely different resting membrane potentials has been shown to be equal to the Nernst equilibrium potential of the most permeant inorganic ion. The energy of the measured distribution of the 9 major inorganic ions between extra- and intracellular phases was essentially equal to the independently measured energy of ATP hydrolysis, showing that the distribution of these 9 major ions was in near-equilibrium with the ΔG' of ATP. Therefore, thermodynamics does appear to play an essential role in the determination of the cell resting membrane potential and the inorganic ion distribution across the plasma membrane.-Veech, R. L., King, M. T., Pawlosky, R., Bradshaw, P. C., Curtis, W. Relationship between inorganic ion distribution, resting membrane potential, and the ΔG' of ATP hydrolysis: a new paradigm.