Voltage-dependent conductance induced in thin lipid membranes by monazomycin

Robert U. Muller, Alan Finkelstein

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57 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-284
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1972
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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