Analysis of currents recorded from single channels is complicated by the limited time resolution (filtering) of the data which can prevent the detection of brief intervals. Although a number of approaches have been used to correct for the undetected intervals (missed events) when identifying kinetic models and estimating parameters, none of them provide a general method which takes into account the true effects of noise and limited time resolution. This paper presents such a method. The approach is to use simulated single-channel currents to incorporate the true effects of filtering and noise on missed events and interval durations. The simulated currents are then analyzed in a manner identical to that used to analyze the experimental currents. An iterative search process using likelihood comparison of two-dimensional dwell-time distributions obtained from the simulated and experimental single-channel currents then allows the most likely rate constants to be determined. The large errors and false solutions that can result from the more typically applied assumptions of no noise and an absolute dead time (idealized filtering) are excluded by the iterative simulation method, and the correlation information contained in the two-dimensional distributions should increase the ability to distinguish among different gating mechanisms. The iterative simulation method is generally applicable to channels which typically open to a single conductance level. For these channels the method places no restrictions on the proposed gating mechanism or the form of the predicted dwell-time distributions.
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