Indexed on: 25 May '02Published on: 25 May '02Published in: The Journal of Membrane Biology
VDAC provides the major permeability pathway through the mitochondrial outer membrane by forming voltage-gated channels with pore radius of 1.2-1.5 nm. We find that VDAC can select among comparably-charged molecules with a much smaller effective radius, 0.4-0.5 nm. The molecules studied were the nucleotides, ATP, UTP, NADH and synthetic anions, tetraglutamate (T-Glu) and 1-hydroxypyrene-3,6,8-trisulfonate (HPTS). VDAC channels were reconstituted into planar phospholipid membranes bathed in 1.0 M NaCl (buffered to pH 8.0). The nucleotides decreased the conductance of VDAC for NaCl demonstrating that they could permeate into the channel. In contrast, T-Glu and HPTS did not change the single-channel conductance, indicating exclusion from the channel. Reversal potential measurements report near ideal selectivity of Na + over T-Glu. The nucleotides increased single-channel noise as they penetrated into the channel, while T-Glu had no effect. HPTS increased noise, but unlike NADH, this was not voltage-dependent when HPTS was added asymmetrically, indicating no penetration into the channel. The differences in effective size and charge cannot explain the difference in permeation characteristics. Thus VDAC must select among these based on shape and charge distribution. We propose that the electrostatic environment within the channel has been evolutionarily selected to favor the passage of adenine nucleotides.