Comparison of Nernst-Planck and reaction rate models for multiply occupied channels.

D. G. Levitt

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41 Scopus citations


The Nernst-Planck continuum equation for a channel that can be occupied by at most two ions is solved for two different physical cases. The first case is for the assumption that the water and ion cannot get around each other anywhere in the channel, so that if there are two ions in the channel the distance between them is fixed by the number of water molecules between them. The second case is for the assumption that there are regions at he ends of the channel where the ions and water can get around each other. For these two cases, the validity of the simple two-site reaction-rate approximation when there is a continuously varying central energy barrier was evaluated by comparing it with the exact Nernst-Planck solution. For the first continuum case, the kinetics for the continuum and reaction-rate models are nearly identical. For the second case, the agreement depends on the strength of the ion-ion interaction energy. For a low interaction energy (large channel diameter) a high ion concentrations, there is a large difference in the flux as a function of voltage for the two models-with the continuum flux becoming more than four times larger at 250 mV. Simple analytical expressions are derived for the two-ion continuum channel for the case where the ends are in equilibrium with the bulk solution and for the case where ion mobility becomes zero when there are two ions in the channel. The implications of these results for biological channels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-587
Number of pages13
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1982


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