Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (Apr 2022)

Unifying Single-Channel Permeability From Rare-Event Sampling and Steady-State Flux

  • Yi-Chun Lin,
  • Yun Lyna Luo

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9


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Various all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulation methods have been developed to compute free energies and crossing rates of ions and small molecules through ion channels. However, a systemic comparison across different methods is scarce. Using a carbon nanotube as a model of small conductance ion channel, we computed the single-channel permeability for potassium ion using umbrella sampling, Markovian milestoning, and steady-state flux under applied voltage. We show that a slightly modified inhomogeneous solubility-diffusion equation yields a single-channel permeability consistent with the mean first passage time (MFPT) based method. For milestoning, applying cylindrical and spherical bulk boundary conditions yield consistent MFPT if factoring in the effective bulk concentration. The sensitivity of the MFPT to the output frequency of collective variables is highlighted using the convergence and symmetricity of the inward and outward MFPT profiles. The consistent transport kinetic results from all three methods demonstrated the robustness of MD-based methods in computing ion channel permeation. The advantages and disadvantages of each technique are discussed, focusing on the future applications of milestoning in more complex systems.