The electric properties of the bilayer lecithin membranes have been studied in the presence of the antibiotic nigericin. When the antibiotic concentration is about 10-6m the conductivity of the BLM is increased up to 10-7 ohm-1 cm-2. The potassium ion concentration gradient gives rise to a transmembrane potential of the order of 40 mV per 10-fold concentration gradient with the side of the higher potassium concentration negative. The transmembrane potential produced by the hydrogen ion concentration gradient is a function of the potassium ion concentration which is equal on both sides of the membrane. For low potassium ion concentrations the hydrogen potential has the expected polarity with the solution having higher concentration of protons negative. For potassium ion concentrations exceeding 0.03 m the hydrogen potential has the reverse polarity. This unexpected result cannot be accounted for in terms of the available simple hypotheses about the charge transport mechanism for nigericin in BLM. In order to account for the experimental results obtained, a theoretical approach has been developed based on the assumption that charge is transported across the membrane by nigericin dimers. The theoretical predictions are in satisfactory agreement with the experimental results. The model also yields some predictions which may be verified in future experiments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology