Ultrasteep Voltage Dependence in a Membrane Channel
A mechanism for regulating voltage-gated channels is presented. The treatment amplifies the effect of the applied membrane potential resulting in a dramatic increase in the channel's voltage dependence. Addition of a large polyvalent anion to the medium bathing a phospholipid bilayer containing the voltage-dependent channel from the mitochondrial outer membrane, VDAC, induced up to a 12-fold increase in the channel's voltage sensitivity. The highest polyvalent anion concentration tested resulted in an e-fold conductance change for a 0.36-mV change in membrane potential. On the low end, a concentration of 2 μ M resulted in a 50% increase in VDAC voltage dependence. A mechanism based on polyvalent anion accumulation in the access resistance region at the mouth of the pore is consistent with all findings. Perhaps the voltage dependence of voltage-gated channels is amplified in vivo by polyvalent ions. If so, the control of excitable phenomena may be under much finer regulation than that provided by membrane potential alone.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
- Pub Date:
- July 1987