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Biophys J. 1997 Nov;73(5):2404-15.

The dielectric properties of water within model transbilayer pores.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, University of Oxford, England.


Ion channels contain extended columns of water molecules within their transbilayer pores. The dynamic properties of such intrapore water have been shown to differ from those of water in its bulk state. In previous molecular dynamics simulations of two classes of model pore (parallel bundles of Ala20 alpha-helices and antiparallel barrels of Ala10 beta-strands), a substantially reduced translational and rotational mobility of waters was observed within the pore relative to bulk water. Molecular dynamics simulations in the presence of a transpore electrostatic field (i.e., a voltage drop along the pore axis) have been used to estimate the resultant polarization (due to reorientation) of the intrapore water, and hence to determine the local dielectric behavior within the pore. It is shown that the local dielectric constant of water within a pore is reduced for models formed by parallel alpha-helix bundles, but not by those formed by beta-barrels. This result is discussed in the context of electrostatics calculations of ion permeation through channels, and the effect of the local dielectric of water within a helix bundle pore is illustrated with a simple Poisson-Boltzmann calculation.

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