The kinetics of the opening and closing of individual ion-conducting channels in lipid bilayers doped with small amounts of excitability-inducing material (EIM) are determined from discrete fluctuations in ionic current. The kinetics for the approach to steady-state conductance during voltage clamp are determined for lipid bilayers containing many EIM channels. The two sets of measurements are found to be consistent, verifying that the voltage-dependent conductance of the many-channel EIM system arises from the opening and closing of individual EIM channels. The opening and closing of the channels are Poisson processes. Transition rates for these processes vary exponentially with applied potential, implying that the energy difference between the open and closed states of an EIM channel is linearly proportional to the transmembrane electric field. A model incorporating the above properties of the EIM channels predicts the observed voltage dependence of ionic conductance and conductance relaxation time, which are also characteristic of natural electrically excitable membranes.

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