To understand the physics of polymer equilibrium and dynamics in the confines of ion channel pores, we study partitioning of poly(ethylene glycol)s (PEGs) of different molecular weights into the bacterial porin, OmpF. Thermodynamic and kinetic parameters of partitioning are deduced from the effects of polymer addition on ion currents through single OmpF channels reconstituted into planar lipid bilayer membranes. The equilibrium partition coefficient is inferred from the average reduction of channel conductance in the presence of PEG; rates of polymer exchange between the pore and the bulk are estimated from PEG-induced conductance noise. Partition coefficient as a function of polymer weight is best fitted by a "compressed exponential" with the compression factor of 1.65. This finding demonstrates that PEG partitioning into the OmpF channel pore has sharper dependence on polymer molecular weight than predictions of hard-sphere, random-flight, or scaling models. A 1360-Da polymer separates regimes of partitioning and exclusion. Comparison of its characteristic size with the size of a 2200-Da polymer previously found to separate these regimes for the α-toxin shows good agreement with the x-ray structural data for these channels. The PEG-induced conductance noise is compatible with the polymer mobility reduced inside the OmpF pore by an order of magnitude relatively to its value in bulk solution.
Rostovtseva, T. K., Nestorovich, E. M., & Bezrukov, S. M. (2002). Partitioning of differently sized poly(ethylene glycol)s into OmpF porin. Biophysical Journal, 82(1), 160–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(02)75383-6