Molecular Transport through Channels: The Role of Interactions
The motion of molecules across channels and pores is critically important for understanding mechanisms of many biological, chemical, physical and industrial processes. Here we investigate the role of different types of interactions in the channel-facilitated molecular transport by analyzing exactly solvable discrete-state stochastic models. According to this approach, the channel transport is a non-equilibrium process that can be viewed as a set of coupled quasi-chemical transitions between discrete spatially separated states. It allows us to obtain a full dynamic description of the translocation via the pore, clarifying many aspects of these complex processes. We show that the strength and the spatial distribution of the molecule/channel interactions can strongly modify the particle fluxes through the system. Our analysis indicates that the most optimal transport is achieved when the binding sites are near the entrance or near the exit of the pore, depending on the sign of interaction potentials. These observations agree with single-molecule experiments on translocation of polypeptides through biological channels. We also suggest that intermolecular interactions during the channel transport might also significantly influence the translocation dynamics. Our explicit calculations show that the increase in the flux can be observed for some optimal interaction strengths. The relevance of these results for biological systems is discussed. The physical-chemical mechanisms of these phenomena are analyzed from the microscopic point of view.