Flexoelectric effects in model and native membranes containing ion channels

Alexander G. Petrov, Barbara A. Miller, Kalina Hristova, Peter N.R. Usherwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An experimental study of flexoelectricity in model membranes containing ion pores and native membranes containing ion channels has been undertaken with the objective of determining the relationship, if any, between flexoelectricity and ion transport. Model membrane patches containing ion pores induced by a bluegreen algal toxin, microcystin-LR, and locust muscle membrane patches containing potassium channels were studied using patch-clamp techniques. A correspondence was established between the presence of open channels and pores and the amplitude of the 1st harmonic of the total membrane current when the membranes or patches were subjected to pressure oscillations. The 2nd harmonic of the membrane current provided a measure of the amplitude of a membrane curvature induced by pressure, thus making it possible to determine the membrane flexoelectric coefficient. This study shows that flexoelectricity could be an effective driving force for ion transport through membrane pores and channels, thus further highlighting the possible biological significance of this mechano-electric phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-300
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Biophysics Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Flexoelectricity
  • Ion channels
  • Lipid bilayer membranes
  • Locust muscle membranes
  • Mechano-electric transduction
  • Patch clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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