Open Access

Coupling optical and electrical measurements in artificial membranes: Lateral diffusion of lipids and channel forming peptides in planar bilayers

Biological Procedures Online1:110081


Planar lipid bilayers (PLB) were prepared by the Montal-Mueller technique in a FRAP system designed to simultaneously measure conductivity across, and lateral diffusion of, the bilayer. In the first stage of the project the FRAP system was used to characterise the lateral dynamics of bilayer lipids with regards to phospholipid composition (headgroup, chain unsaturation etc.), presence of cholesterol and the effect of divalent cations on negatively-charged bilayers. In the second stage of the project, lateral diffusion of two fluorescently-labelled voltage-dependent pore-forming peptides (alamethicin and S4s from Shaker K+ channel) was determined at rest and in the conducting state. This study demonstrates the feasibility of such experiments with PLBs, amenable to physical constraints, and thus offers new opportunities for systematic studies of structure-function relationships in membrane-associating molecules.