Alcaraz A, Lopez ML, Queralt-Martin M, Aguilella VM.
ACS Nano 2017 Oct; 11: 10392.
ynthetic nanopores and mesoscopic protein channels have common traits like the importance of electrostatic interactions between the permeating ions and the nanochannel. Ion transport at the nanoscale occurs under confinement conditions so that the usual assumptions made in microfluidics are challenged, among others, by interfacial effects such as access resistance (AR). Here, we show that a sound interpretation of electrophysiological measurements in terms of channel ion selective properties requires the consideration of interfacial effects, up to the point that they dominate protein channel conductance in diluted solutions. We measure AR in a large ion channel, the bacterial porin OmpF, by means of single-channel conductance measurements in electrolyte solutions containing varying concentrations of high molecular weight PEG, sterically excluded from the pore. Comparison of experiments performed in charged and neutral planar membranes shows that lipid surface charges modify the ion distribution and determine the value of AR, indicating that lipid molecules are more than passive scaffolds even in the case of large transmembrane proteins. We also found that AR may reach up to 80% of the total channel conductance in diluted solutions, where electrophysiological recordings register essentially the AR of the system and depend marginally on the pore characteristics. These findings may have implications for several low aspect ratio biological channels that perform their physiological function in a low ionic strength and macromolecule crowded environment, just the two conditions enhancing the AR contribution.
PubMed: 28930428. Doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b05529.