When present in micromolar amounts on one side of phospholipid bilayer membranes, monazomycin (a positively charged, polyene-like antibiotic) induces dramatic voltage-dependent conductance effects. Voltage clamp records are very similar in shape to those obtained from the potassium conductance system of the squid axon. The steady-state conductance is proportional to the 5th power of the monazomycin concentration and increases exponentially with positive voltage (monazomycin side positive); there is an e-fold change in conductance per 4-6 my. The major current-carrying ions are univalent cations. For a lipid having no net charge, steady-state conductance increases linearly with KCl (or NaCl) concentration and is unaffected by Ca++ or Mg++. The current-voltage characteristic which is normally monotonic in symmetrical salt solutions is converted by a salt gradient to one with a negative slope-conductance region, although the conductance-voltage characteristic is unaffected. A membrane treated with both monazomycin and the polyene antibiotic nystatin (which alone creates anion-selective channels) displays bistability in the presence of a salt gradient. Thus monazomycin and nystatin channels can exist in parallel. We believe that many monazomycin monomers (within the membrane) cooperate to form a multimolecular conductance channel; the voltage control of conductance arises from the electric field driving monazomycin molecules at the membrane surface into the membrane and thus affecting the number of channels that are formed.
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