A team of graduate, undergraduate and high school students at Boise State University in the lab of Daniel Fologea, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, recently published an article in “Membranes.”
Ionic selectivity is essential for creating and maintaining electrochemical gradients in any cell. Very common for ion channels, this feature may be shared with other transmembrane transporters. In “The Ionic Selectivity of Lysenin Channels in Open and Sub-Conducting States,” the research team showed that the pore-forming toxin lysenin reconstituted in artificial lipid membranes presents a high selectivity for monovalent anions and cations.
In addition, the team investigated the ionic permeability of lysenin channels arrested in a stable sub-conducting state, and concluded that changes in conformation led to a loss of selectivity. These intricate properties of lysenin channels may be further exploited for powering artificial cells, controlling the transport of ions and molecules across artificial and natural lipid membranes, and a better understanding of the physiological relevance of sub-conducting states of channels in health and disease.
Authors include Department of Physics students Pangaea W. Finn, Ilinca M. Flacau (Leland High School, San Jose, CA), Fulton McKinney and Aviana R. Smith and physics and Biomolecular Sciences graduate students Andrew Bogard and Rosey Whiting. Fologea, the corresponding author, gratefully acknowledges support for this work from the Biomolecular Research Center.