Potential energy barriers to ion transport within lipid bilayers. Studies with tetraphenylborate
Tetraphenylborate-induced current transients were studied in lipid bilayers formed from bacterial phosphatidylethanolamine in decane. This ion movement was essentially confined to the membrane in terior during the current transients. Charge movement through the interior of the membrane during the current transients was studied as a function of the applied potential. The transferred charge approached an upper limit with increasing potential, which is interpreted to be the amount of charge due to tetraphenylborate ions absorbed into the boundary regions of the bilayer. A further analysis of the charge transfer as a function of potential indicates that the movement of tetraphenylborate ions is only influenced by a certain farction of the applied potential. For bacterial phosphatidylethanolamine bilayers the effective potential is 77 +/- 4% of the applied potential. The initial conductance and the time constant of the current transients were studied as a function of the applied potential using a Nernst-Planck electrodiffusion regime. It was found that an image-force potential energy barrier gave a good prediction of the observed behavior, provided that the effective potential was used in the calculations. We could not get a satisfactory prediction of the observed behavior with an Eyring rate theory model or a trapezoidal potential energy barrier.