Effects of green tea catechins on gramicidin channel function and inferred changes in bilayer properties
Ion Channel Gating
Green tea's health benefits have been attributed to its major polyphenols, the catechins: (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), (-)-epicatechin gallate (ECG), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), and epicatechin (EC). Catechins (especially EGCG) modulate a wide range of biologically important molecules, including many membrane proteins. Yet, little is known about their mechanism(s) of action. We tested the catechins' bilayer-modifying potency using gramicidin A (gA) channels as molecular force probes. All the catechins alter gA channel function and modify bilayer properties, with a 500-fold range in potency (EGCG>ECG≫EGC>EC). Additionally, the gallate group causes current block, as evident by brief downward current transitions (flickers).