Gramicidin channel kinetics under tension
We have measured the effect of tension on dimerization kinetics of the channel-forming peptide gramicidin A. By aspirating large unilamellar vesicles into a micropipette electrode, we are able to simultaneously monitor membrane tension and electrical activity. We find that the dimer formation rate increases by a factor of 5 as tension ranges from 0 to 4 dyn/cm. The dimer lifetime also increases with tension. This behavior is well described by a phenomenological model of membrane elasticity in which tension modulates the mismatch in thickness between the gramicidin dimer and membrane.