Peter Bates (Michigan State University), Weishi Liu (Mathematics, U. Kansas, USA), Mingji Zhang (Mathematics, New Mexico Tech., USA)
A fundamental concern of physiology is the function of ion channels, these being essential to most cellular processes. Ion channels are cylindrical proteins with hollow cores that provide a controllable path for electro-diffusion of ions through membranes. Thus, they establish communication among cells and the external environment and affect the cell membrane potential. This way, ion channels control a wide range of biological functions. The study of ion channels consists of two related major topics: The structures of the different ion channels and the ionic flow properties within those channels. This session will focus on the latter. With the structure of an open channel given, there are many important aspects to its electro-diffusion properties. Beyond general electro-diffusion phenomena for electrolytic solutions in bulk or near charged walls, the study of ionic flows through channels should take into consideration boundary conditions in the concentration of ion species, the effective sizes and valences of the different ions, and the structure of the channel, including the distribution of permanent charge. One would like to gain an understanding of selectivity and the values of reversal potentials for the separate flows of the ionic species in a given channel. This session will explore those issues.