Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels

Roland Roth, Dirk Gillespie, Wolfgang Nonner, Robert E. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We suggest that bubbles are the bistable hydrophobic gates responsible for the on-off transitions of single channel currents. In this view, many types of channels gate by the same physical mechanism-dewetting by capillary evaporation-but different types of channels use different sensors to modulate hydrophobic properties of the channel wall and thereby trigger and control bubbles and gating. Spontaneous emptying of channels has been seen in many simulations. Because of the physics involved, such phase transitions are inherently sensitive, unstable threshold phenomena that are difficult to simulate reproducibly and thus convincingly. We present a thermodynamic analysis of a bubble gate using morphometric density functional theory of classical (not quantum) mechanics. Thermodynamic analysis of phase transitions is generally more reproducible and less sensitive to details than simulations. Anesthetic actions of inert gases-and their interactions with hydrostatic pressure (e.g., nitrogen narcosis)-can be easily understood by actions on bubbles. A general theory of gas anesthesia may involve bubbles in channels. Only experiments can show whether, or when, or which channels actually use bubbles as hydrophobic gates: direct observation of bubbles in channels is needed. Existing experiments show thin gas layers on hydrophobic surfaces in water and suggest that bubbles nearly exist in bulk water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4282-4298
Number of pages17
JournalBiophysical Journal
Volume94
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Phase Transition
Ion Channels
Thermodynamics
Anesthetics
Inert Gas Narcosis
Gases
Noble Gases
Hydrostatic Pressure
Water
Physics
Mechanics
Anesthesia
Observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

Cite this

Roth, R., Gillespie, D., Nonner, W., & Eisenberg, R. E. (2008). Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels. Biophysical Journal, 94(11), 4282-4298. https://doi.org/10.1529/biophysj.107.120493

Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels. / Roth, Roland; Gillespie, Dirk; Nonner, Wolfgang; Eisenberg, Robert E.

In: Biophysical Journal, Vol. 94, No. 11, 01.06.2008, p. 4282-4298.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Roth, R, Gillespie, D, Nonner, W & Eisenberg, RE 2008, 'Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels', Biophysical Journal, vol. 94, no. 11, pp. 4282-4298. https://doi.org/10.1529/biophysj.107.120493
Roth R, Gillespie D, Nonner W, Eisenberg RE. Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels. Biophysical Journal. 2008 Jun 1;94(11):4282-4298. https://doi.org/10.1529/biophysj.107.120493
Roth, Roland ; Gillespie, Dirk ; Nonner, Wolfgang ; Eisenberg, Robert E. / Bubbles, gating, and anesthetics in ion channels. In: Biophysical Journal. 2008 ; Vol. 94, No. 11. pp. 4282-4298.
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