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Ion channels contain narrow columns of water molecules. It is of interest to compare the structure and dynamics of such intrapore water with those of the bulk solvent. Molecular dynamics simulations of modified TIP3P water molecules confined within channel-like cavities have been performed and the orientation and dynamics of the water molecules analyzed. Channels were modeled as cylindrical cavities with lengths ranging from 15 to 60 A and radii from 3 to 12 A. At the end of the molecular dynamics simulations water molecules were observed to be ordered into approximately concentric cylindrical shells. The waters of the outermost shell were oriented such that their dipoles were on average perpendicular to the normal of the wall of the cavity. Water dynamics were analyzed in terms of self-diffusion coefficients and rotational reorientation rates. For cavities of radii 3 and 6 A, water mobility was reduced relative to that of simulated bulk water. For 9- and 12-A radii confined water molecules exhibited mobilities comparable with that of the bulk solvent. If water molecules were confined within an hourglass-shaped cavity (with a central radius of 3 A increasing to 12 A at either end) a gradient of water mobility was observed along the cavity axis. Thus, water within simple models of transbilayer channels exhibits perturbations of structure and dynamics relative to bulk water. In particular the reduction of rotational reorientation rate is expected to alter the local dielectric constant within a transbilayer pore.

Original publication




Journal article


Biophys J

Publication Date





693 - 702


Biophysical Phenomena, Biophysics, Computer Simulation, Ion Channels, Models, Chemical, Molecular Structure, Thermodynamics, Water