At sufficiently large conductances, the voltage-dependent conductance induced in thin lipid membranes by monazomycin undergoes inactivation. This is a consequence of depletion of monazomycin from the membrane solution interface, as monazomycin crosses the membrane to the opposite (trans) side from which it was added. The flux of monazomycin is directly proportional to the monazomycin-induced conductance; at a given conductance it is independent of monazomycin concentration. We conclude that when monazomycin channels break up, some or all of the molecules making up a channel are deposited on the trans side. We present a model for the monazomycin channel: approximately five molecules, each spanning the membrane with its NH3+ on the trans side and an uncharged hydrophilic (probably sugar) group anchored to the cis side, form an aqueous channel lined by--OH groups. The voltage dependence arises from the flipping by the electrical field of molecules lying parallel to the cis surface into the "spanned state;" the subsequent aggregation of these molecules into channels is, to a first approximation, voltage independent. The channel breakup that deposits monomers on the trans side involves the collapsing of the channel in such a way that the uncharged hydrophilic groups remain in contact with the water in the channel as they close the channel from behind. We also discuss the possibility that inactivation of sodium channels in nerve involves the movement from one side of the membrane to the other of the molecules (or molecule) forming the channel.

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