Dynamic Clustering Regulates Activity of Mechanosensitive Membrane Channels

Phys Rev Lett. 2020 Jan 31;124(4):048102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.048102.


Experiments have suggested that bacterial mechanosensitive channels separate into 2D clusters, the role of which is unclear. By developing a coarse-grained computer model we find that clustering promotes the channel closure, which is highly dependent on the channel concentration and membrane stress. This behaviour yields a tightly regulated gating system, whereby at high tensions channels gate individually, and at lower tensions the channels spontaneously aggregate and inactivate. We implement this positive feedback into the model for cell volume regulation, and find that the channel clustering protects the cell against excessive loss of cytoplasmic content.

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / cytology
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Ion Channels / chemistry*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Chemical*


  • Ion Channels