Cooperative transport in a potassium ion channel

Gwan, Jean-Fang; Baumgaertner, Artur
July 2007
Journal of Chemical Physics;7/28/2007, Vol. 127 Issue 4, p045103
Academic Journal
Our current understanding of ion permeation through the selectivity filter of the KcsA potassium channel is based on the concept of a multi-ion transport mechanism. The details of this concerted movement, however, are not well understood. In the present paper we report on molecular dynamics simulations which provides new insights. It is shown that ion translocation is based on the collective hopping of ions and water molecules which is mediated by the flexible charged carbonyl groups lining the backbone of the pore. In particular, there is strong evidence for pairwise translocations where one ion and one water molecule form a bound state. We suggest a physical explanation of the observed phenomena employing a simple lattice model. It is argued that the water molecules can act as rectifiers during the hopping of ion-water pairs.


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