Escherichia coli hemolysin forms cation selective, ion-permeable channels of large conductance in planar phospholipid bilayer membranes. The pore formation mechanism is voltage dependent resembling that of some colicins and of diphtheria toxin: pores open when negative voltages are applied and close with positive potentials. The pH dependence of this gating process suggests that it is mediated by a negative fixed charge present in the lumen of the pore. A simple physical model of how the channel opens and closes in response to the applied voltage is given.

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