Scientific reports

Investigation of Ion Channel Activities of Gramicidin A in the Presence of Ionic Liquids Using Model Cell Membranes.

PMID 26189604


Ionic liquids (ILs) are considered to be green solvents because of their non-volatility. Although ILs are relatively safe in the atmospheric environment, they may be toxic in other environments. Our previous research showed that the cytotoxicity of ILs to biological organisms is attributable to interference with cell membranes by IL insertion. However, the effects of ILs on ion channels, which play important roles in cell homeostasis, have not been comprehensively studied to date. In this work, we studied the interactions between ILs and lipid bilayer membranes with gramicidin A ion channels. We used two methods, namely electrical and fluorescence measurements of ions that permeate the membrane. The lifetimes of channels were increased by all the ILs tested in this work via stabilizing the compressed structure of the lipid bilayer and the rate of ion flux through gA channels was decreased by changing the membrane surface charge. The former effect, which increased the rate of ion flux, was dominant at high salt concentrations, whereas the latter, which decreased the rate of ion flux, was dominant at low salt concentrations. The effects of ILs increased with increasing concentration and alkyl chain length. The experimental results were further studied using molecular dynamics simulations.