Kinetics of gramicidin channel formation in lipid bilayers: transmembrane monomer association

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Science  30 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4985, pp. 1256-1259
DOI: 10.1126/science.1700867


Conducting gramicidin channels form predominantly by the transmembrane association of monomers, one from each side of a lipid bilayer. In single-channel experiments in planar bilayers the two gramicidin analogs, [Val1]gramicidin A (gA) and [4,4,4-F3-Val1]gramicidin A (F3gA), form dimeric channels that are structurally equivalent and have characteristically different conductances. When these gramicidins were added asymmetrically, one to each side of a preformed bilayer, the predominant channel type was the hybrid channel, formed between two chemically dissimilar monomers. These channels formed by the association of monomers residing in each half of the membrane. These results also indicate that the hydrophobic gramicidins are surprisingly membrane impermeant, a conclusion that was confirmed in experiments in which gA was added asymmetrically and symmetrically to preformed bilayers.

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