A theoretical model of the gramicidin A channel is presented and the kinetic behavior of the model is derived and compared with previous experimental results. The major assumption of the model is that the only interaction between ions in a multiply-occupied channel is electrostatic. The electrostatic calculations indicate in a multiply-occupied channel is electrostatic. The electrostatic calculations indicate that there will be potential wells at each end of the channel and, at high concentrations, that both wells can be occupied. The kinetics are based on two reaction steps: movement of the ion from the bulk solution to the well and movement between the two wells. The kinetics for this reaction rate approach are identical to those based on the Nernst-Planck equation in the limit where the movement between the two wells is rate limiting. The experimental results for sodium and potassium are consistent with a maximum of two ions per channel. To explain the thallium results it is necessary to allow three ions per channel. It is shown that this case is compatible with the electrostatic calculations if the presence of an anion is included. The theoretical kinetics are in reasonable quantitative agreement with the following experimental measurements: single channel conductance of sodium, potassium, and thallium; bi-ionic potential and permeability ratio between sodium-potassium and potassium-thallium; the limiting conductance of potassium and thallium at high applied voltages; current-voltage curves for sodium and potassium at low (but not high) concentrations; and the inhibition of sodium conductance by thallium. The results suggest that the potential well is located close to the channel mouth and that the conductance is partially limited by the rate going from the bulk solution to the well. For thallium, this entrance rate is probably diffusion limited.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I wish to thank Dr. George Eisenman, Dr. Olaf Andersen, and Dr. Steven Hladky for sending me pre- prints of their papers. This research was supported by grants from the Minnesota Medical Foundation and the University of Minnesota Computer Center. Receivedforpublication 29July 1977andin revisedform 21 December 1977.