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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

On the origin of closing flickers in gramicidin channels: a new hypothesis.

The submillisecond closing events (flickers) and the single channel conductances to protons (g(H)) were studied in native gramicidin A (gA) and in the SS and RR diastereoisomers of dioxolane-linked gA channels in planar bilayers. Bilayers were formed from glycerylmonooleate (GMO) in various solvents. In GMO/decane (thick) bilayers, the largest flicker frequency occurred in the SS channel (39 s(-1)), followed by the RR (4 s(-1)) and native gA channels (3 s(-1)). These frequencies were attenuated in GMO/squalene (thin) bilayers by 100-, 30-, and 70-fold in the SS, RR, and native gA channels, respectively. In thin bilayers, the average burst duration of native gA channels was 30-fold longer than in thick bilayers. The RR dioxolane-linked gA dimer "inactivated" in GMO/decane but not in squalene-containing bilayers. The mean closed time of flickers (approximately 0.12 ms) was essentially the same in various gA channels. In thin bilayers, g(H) values were larger by approximately 10% ( SS), 30% (RR), and 20% (native gA) in relation to thick bilayers. It is concluded that flickers are not related to pre-dissociation or dissociation states of gA monomers, and do not seem to be caused by intrinsic conformational changes of channel proteins. It is proposed that flickers are caused by undulations of the bilayer that obliterate the openings of gA channels. Differences between flicker frequencies in various gA channels are likely to result from variations in channel geometries at the bilayer/channel interface. The smaller g(H) in thick bilayers suggests that the deformation of these bilayers around the gA channel creates a diffusional pathway next to the mouths of the channel that is longer and more restrictive than in thin GMO bilayers. A possible molecular interpretation for these effects is attempted.[1]


  1. On the origin of closing flickers in gramicidin channels: a new hypothesis. Armstrong, K.M., Cukierman, S. Biophys. J. (2002) [Pubmed]
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