Proton gradients and pH oscillations emerge from heat flow at the microscale

Proton gradients and pH oscillations emerge from heat flow at the microscale Proton gradients are essential for biological systems. They not only drive the synthesis of ATP, but initiate molecule degradation and recycling inside lysosomes. However, the high mobility and permeability of protons through membranes make pH gradients very hard to sustain in vitro. Here we report that heat flow across a water-filled chamber forms and sustains stable pH gradients. Charged molecules accumulate by convection and thermophoresis better than uncharged species. In a dissociation reaction, this imbalances the reaction equilibrium and creates a difference in pH. In solutions of amino acids, phosphate, or nucleotides, we achieve pH differences of up to 2 pH units. The same mechanism cycles biomolecules by convection in the created proton gradient. This implements a feedback between biomolecules and a cyclic variation of the pH. The finding provides a mechanism to create a self-sustained proton gradient to drive biochemical reactions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Communications Springer Journals

Proton gradients and pH oscillations emerge from heat flow at the microscale

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Publisher
Nature Publishing Group UK
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by The Author(s)
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
eISSN
2041-1723
D.O.I.
10.1038/s41467-017-02065-3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Proton gradients are essential for biological systems. They not only drive the synthesis of ATP, but initiate molecule degradation and recycling inside lysosomes. However, the high mobility and permeability of protons through membranes make pH gradients very hard to sustain in vitro. Here we report that heat flow across a water-filled chamber forms and sustains stable pH gradients. Charged molecules accumulate by convection and thermophoresis better than uncharged species. In a dissociation reaction, this imbalances the reaction equilibrium and creates a difference in pH. In solutions of amino acids, phosphate, or nucleotides, we achieve pH differences of up to 2 pH units. The same mechanism cycles biomolecules by convection in the created proton gradient. This implements a feedback between biomolecules and a cyclic variation of the pH. The finding provides a mechanism to create a self-sustained proton gradient to drive biochemical reactions.

Journal

Nature CommunicationsSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 1, 2017

References

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