Electrostatic interactions among hydrophobic ions in lipid bilayer membranes
Membrane Transport Proteins
We have shown that the absorption of tetraphenylborate into black lipid membranes formed from either bacterial phosphatidylethanolamine or glycerolmonooleate produces concentration-dependent changes in the electrostatic potential between the membrane interior and the bulk aqueous phases. These potential changes were studied by a variety of techniques: voltage clamp, charge pulse, and "probe" measurements on black lipid membranes; electrophroetic mobility measurements on phospholipid vesicles; and surface potential measurements on phospholipid monolayers. The magnitude of the potential changes indicates that tetraphenylborate absorbs into a region of the membrane with a low dielectric constant, where it produces substantial boundary potentials, as first suggested by Markin et al. (1971). Many features of our data can be explained by a simple three-capacitor model, which we develop in a self-consistent manner. Some discrepancies between our data and the simple model suggest that discrete charge phenomena may be important within these thin membranes.