Ion current calculations based on three dimensional Poisson-Nernst-Planck theory for a cyclic peptide nanotube

Hyonseok Hwang, George C. Schatz*, Mark A. Ratner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Ion current calculations based on Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) theory are performed for a synthetic cyclic peptide nanotube that consists of eight or ten cyclo[(-L-Trp-D-Leu-)4] embedded in a lipid bilayer membrane to investigate the ion transport properties of the nanotube. To explore systems with arbitrary geometries, three-dimensional PNP theory is implemented using a finite difference method. The influence of dipolar lipid molecules on the ion currents is also examined by turning on or off the charges of the lipid dipoles in dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC). Comparisons between the calculated and experimentally measured ion currents show that the PNP approach agrees well with the measurements at low ion concentrations but overestimates the currents at higher concentrations. Concentration profiles reveal the selectivity of the peptide nanotube to cations, which is attributed to the negatively charged carbonyl oxygens inside the nanotube. The dominant cation and the minimum anion concentrations inside the cyclic peptide nanotube suggest that these cyclic peptide nanotubes can be employed as ion sensors. In the case of the polar DPPC bilayer, smaller currents are obtained in the calculation. The variation of current with polarity of the lipids implies that both polar and nonpolar lipid bilayer membranes can be utilized to regulate ion currents in the peptide nanotube and other ion channels. Strengths and limitations of the PNP theory are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6999-7008
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number13
StatePublished - May 6 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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