The interaction of extracellular Na (Nao), K (Ko), and strophanthidin with the Na-K pump of the human red blood cell has been investigated. Inhibition by submaximal concentrations of strophanthidin rapidly reaches a level which does not increase further over a relatively long period of time. Under these circumstances, it is possible to apply a steady-state kinetic analysis to the interaction of Nao, Ko, and strophanthidin with the pump. In Na-free solutions, strophanthidin increases the apparent K1/2 of the pump for Ko, but does not change the form of the relation between the reciprocal of the active K influx (iMKP–1) and the reciprocal of [Ko] ([Ko]–1); the relation both in the presence and absence of strophanthidin is adequately described by a straight line. In solutions containing Na, strophanthidin changes the form of the curve describing the relation between iMKP–1 vs. [Ko]–1; the curve becomes more parabolic in solutions containing strophanthidin. The rate of ouabain binding to K-free cells has also been measured; in the absence of K, the rate of binding is unaffected by Nao. The data are considered in terms of a simple kinetic model.
The findings can be explained if it is supposed that at low external K the form of the pump combined with one Nao is more likely to combine with strophanthidin than is the uncombined form of the pump. The uncombined form of the pump is more likely to combine with K even at very low Ko than with strophanthidin.