Two purified fractions of alamethicin have different conductance properties

Igor Vodyanoy, James E. Hall, T. M. Balasubramanian, Garland R. Marshall

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The properties of two purified alamethicin fractions, Fraction 4 and Fraction 6, have been studied in phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) membranes and phosphatidylserine (PS) membranes. Membranes doped with Fraction 4 show well-defined single channel conductance (mean lifetime about 20 ms). The autocorrelation function of the current fluctuations has one relaxation time of the same order as the mean lifetime of the single channels, and the current response to a voltage pulse follows an exponential with only one time constant. The conductance of a membrane doped with Fraction 6 has a voltage-independent part and a current-voltage curve with a slope that is half the slope of the Fraction 4 current-voltage curve. In the presence of Fraction 6, PS membranes and PE membranes both have symmetrical current-voltage curves even with Fraction 6 added to only one side. We did not detect any well-defined single channel levels in the presence of Fraction 6, and autocorrelation analysis of the current due to Fraction 6 gave two characteristic correlation times: a fast time (about 5 ms) and a slow time (about 50 ms). High current level kinetics of Fraction 6 also show two time constants. A possible explanation for the differences between the two fractions is that Fraction 6 monomers have a lower dipole moment than those of Fraction 4. The difference in channel stability can be explained by a lowered tendency of the monomers to line up parallel to the field. The negative branch and voltage-independent conductance can be explained by lowered energy of insertion of monomers into the membrane, and lowered energy of interaction between the monomers and the electric field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-58
Number of pages6
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 1982


  • Alamethicin fraction
  • Conductance
  • Single channel conductance


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