European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 233–241 | Cite as

Alamethicin channel conductance modified by lipid charge

  • Vicente M. Aguilella
  • Sergey M. Bezrukov


The membrane surface charge modifies the conductance of ion channels by changing the electric potential and redistributing the ionic composition in their vicinity. We have studied the effects of lipid charge on the conductance of a multi-state channel formed in planar lipid bilayers by the peptide antibiotic alamethicin. The channel conductance was measured in two lipids: in a neutral dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) and a negatively charged dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS). The charge state of DOPS was manipulated by the pH of the membrane-bathing solution. We find that at high salt concentrations (e.g., 2 M NaCl) the effect of the lipid charge is below the accuracy of our measurements. However, when the salt concentration in the membrane-bathing solution is decreased, the surface charge manifests itself as an increase in the conductance of the first two channel levels that correspond to the smallest conductive alamethicin aggregates. Our analysis shows that both the salt and pH dependence of the surface charge effect can be rationalized within the nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann approach. Given channel conductance in neutral lipids, we use different procedures to account for the surface charge (e.g., introduce averaging over the channel aperture and take into account Na+ adsorption to DOPS heads), but only one adjustable parameter: an effective distance from the nearest lipid charge to the channel mouth center. We show that this distance varies by 0.3–0.4 nm upon channel transition from the minimal conducting aggregate (level L0) to the next larger one (level L1). This conclusion is in accord with a simple geometrical model of alamethicin aggregation.

Surface charge Double layer Lipid titration Protein electrostatics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicente M. Aguilella
    • 1
  • Sergey M. Bezrukov
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad Jaume I, Ap. 224, 12080 Castellon, Spain
  2. 2.Laboratory of Physical and Structural Biology, NICHD, National Institutes of Health, Bldg. 9, Room 1E122, Bethesda, MD 20892-0924, USA

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