The mitochondrion as a flip-flop memory element in neurons

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Tue Dec 12 09:59:53 EST 2000

"Andrew Gyles" <acgyles at my-deja.com> wrote in message
news:913oq4$6on$1 at nnrp1.deja.com...
> (Related articles at: http://www.geocities.com/acgyles)
> The mitochondrion as a flip-flop memory element in neurons
> I suggested in an earlier article that if certain mitochondria in
> neurons worked with all of their ATPsynthase/ATPase enzymes rotating in
> phase or [to allow for geometric effects at the bends of cristae] in
> phase plus or minus 120 degrees, they would produce 'minor floods' of
> protons when working as ATPsynthase, which could trigger nerve impulses.
> Protons are positively charged. The arrival of positive charges at the
> negatively charged inner surface of a neuron membrane that is ready
> to 'fire' will trigger a nerve impulse. The triggering positive charge
> need only be very small; the main strength of a nerve impulse is
> contributed by the subsequent increase in permeability of the membrane
> to sodium ions, and the inrush of that ion into the neuron.

<snip a lot of stuff>

I have not noticed in electron micrographs any particular concentration
of mitochondria right under the cell membrane especially at the site
of spike initiation.  Have you tried calculating the actual number of
protons that would be required to depolarize a neuron by even a few
mv for a reasonable time (at least a significant fraction of a time
over a substantial distance (at least a significant fraction of a space
constant) and allowing for diffusion in the bulk intracellular medium?
Then have you tried calculating the effect on the intracellular pH?

I would guess that you will kill all the proteins in the vicinity with all
those protons.  These are not inert charge carriers like K+ or Na+.
They are exceptionally active!

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