When sufficiently small amounts of excitability-inducing material (EIM) are added to a bimolecular lipid membrane, the conductance is limited to a few discrete levels and changes abruptly from one level to another. From our study of these fluctuations, we have concluded that the EIM-doped bilayer contains ion-conducting channels capable of undergoing transitions between two states of different conductance. The difference in current between the "open" and "closed" states is directly proportional to the applied membrane potential, and corresponds to a conductance of about 3 x 10-10 ohm-1. The fraction of the total number of channels that is open varies from unity to zero as a function of potential. The voltage-dependent opening and closing of channels explains the negative resistance observed for bimolecular lipid membranes treated with greater amounts of EIM.

This content is only available as a PDF.