The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 119–130

Effect of 3-phenylindole on lipophilic ion and carrier-mediated ion transport across bilayer lipid membranes

  • Barbara A. Sinha
  • Pavel Smejtek

DOI: 10.1007/BF01870680

Cite this article as:
Sinha, B.A. & Smejtek, P. J. Membrain Biol. (1983) 71: 119. doi:10.1007/BF01870680


The physical effects of 3-phenylindole, an antimicrobial compound which interacts with phospholipids, on ion transport across phosphatidylcholine-cholesterol bilayers have been investigated using three lipophilic ions and one ion-carrier complex. It was found that 3-phenylindole increased membrane electrical conductance of positively charged membrane probes and decreased electrical conductance of negatively charged probes. The enhancement of conductance detected by nonactin-K+ complex and tetraphenylarsonium+ was several orders of magnitude, whereas the suppression of conductance due to tetraphenylborate and dipicrylamine was less than a factor of ten. Presence of 3-phenylindole in aqueous phase slightly decreased adsorption of tetraphenylborate and dipicrylamine at the membrane surface. From the voltage dependence of the steady-state conductance it was shown that 3-phenylindole induced kinetic limitation of membrane transport of potassium mediated by nonactin. No such limitation was found in the case of tetraphenylarsonium+ transport. These results are shown to be consistent with the present concept of ion diffusion in membranes and the assumption that 3-phenylindole decreases the electric potential in the membrane interior. The asymmetry of the effect of 3-phenylindole on the magnitude of conductance changes for positively and negatively charged membrane permeable ions is also discussed as a reflection of the discreteness of both the adsorbed 3-phenylindole and lipid dipoles.

Key Words

3-phenylindoleion transportbilayer lipid membranesmembrane permeabilitydipole potentialfungicide

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara A. Sinha
    • 1
  • Pavel Smejtek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics, Environmental Sciences and Resources ProgramPortland State UniversityPortland