Send to

Choose Destination
Phys Biol. 2004 Jun;1(1-2):110-24.

Thermodynamics of mechanosensitivity.

Author information

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, UT Southwestern, Dallas, TX 75235-9068, USA.


Mechanosensitivity of ion channels is conventionally interpreted as being driven by a change of their in-plane cross-sectional area A(msc). This, however, does not include any factors relating to membrane stiffness, thickness, spontaneous curvature or changes in channel shape, length or stiffness. Because the open probability of a channel is sensitive to all these factors, we constructed a general thermodynamic formalism. These equations provide the basis for the analysis of the behaviour of mechanosensitive channels in lipids of different geometric and chemical properties such as the hydrophobic mismatch at the boundary between the protein and lipid or the effects of changes in the bilayer intrinsic curvature caused by the adsorption of amphipaths. This model predicts that the midpoint gamma(1/2) and the slope(1/2) of the gating curve are generally not independent. Using this relationship, we have predicted the line tension at the channel/lipid border of MscL as approximately 10 pN, and found it to be much less than the line tension of aqueous pores in pure lipid membranes. The MscL channel appears quite well matched to its lipid environment. Using gramicidin as a model system, we have explained its observed conversion from stretch-activated to stretch-inactivated gating as a function of bilayer thickness and composition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for IOP Publishing Ltd.
Loading ...
Support Center