• Computational investigations of ion conduction mechanisms using enhanced sampling methods
  • Ceccarini, Luisa <1980>


  • CHIM/08 Chimica farmaceutica


  • Proper ion channels’ functioning is a prerequisite for a normal cell and disorders involving ion channels, or channelopathies, underlie many human diseases. Long QT syndromes (LQTS) for example may arise from the malfunctioning of hERG channel, caused either by the binding of drugs or mutations in HERG gene. In the first part of this thesis I present a framework to investigate the mechanism of ion conduction through hERG channel. The free energy profile governing the elementary steps of ion translocation in the pore was computed by means of umbrella sampling simulations. Compared to previous studies, we detected a different dynamic behavior: according to our data hERG is more likely to mediate a conduction mechanism which has been referred to as “single-vacancy-like” by Roux and coworkers (2001), rather then a “knock-on” mechanism. The same protocol was applied to a model of hERG presenting the Gly628Ser mutation, found to be cause of congenital LQTS. The results provided interesting insights about the reason of the malfunctioning of the mutant channel. Since they have critical functions in viruses’ life cycle, viral ion channels, such as M2 proton channel, are considered attractive targets for antiviral therapy. A deep knowledge of the mechanisms that the virus employs to survive in the host cell is of primary importance in the identification of new antiviral strategies. In the second part of this thesis I shed light on the role that M2 plays in the control of electrical potential inside the virus, being the charge equilibration a condition required to allow proton influx. The ion conduction through M2 was simulated using metadynamics technique. Based on our results we suggest that a potential anion-mediated cation-proton exchange, as well as a direct anion-proton exchange could both contribute to explain the activity of the M2 channel.


  • 2011-04-12


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Ceccarini, Luisa (2011) Computational investigations of ion conduction mechanisms using enhanced sampling methods, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze farmaceutiche , 23 Ciclo.