What are ionophores?

Ionophores are lipid-soluble molecules, usually synthesized by microorganisms to transport ions through a lipid bilayer of cell membrane.

Ion Transport

Ionophores function as ion carriers.  Ion carriers can transfer ions from a hydrophilic medium, such as water, into a hydrophobic medium, i.e a biological membrane, where the ions typically would not be soluble. They can do this by binding to particular ions and acting as a mobile carrier, escorting them through the hydrophobic environment of cell membranes, or they can form ion channels.

Diagram showing action of mebrane ionophore transport

Action of mebrane ionophore transport

Ion channels form pores in membranes through which ions can pass. There are several types of ion channels, each regulated by various mechanisms designed to allow only certain ions to flow into and out of a cell and only at certain times.

Ion Channel Gating

Ion channels are named by their ion selectivity and by their opening/closing mechanism, which is also known as gating. Voltage-gated and ligand-gated ion channels are the most abundant and well-studied gating mechanisms, but there are also light-gated channels, mechanosensitive channels, second messenger channels, and others. Although there are some non-selective ion channels, most ion channels are selective for particular ions, allowing only ions of particular size and charge to pass through.

 

All endogenously present ions pass in and out of cell membranes via ion channels including calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and hydrogen protons. In the human body, ionophores are closely connected with functions ranging from digestion to mental health. They are used for diagnostic radio imaging, they are components of many pharmaceuticals, and are used widely in research to increase or decrease ion concentration in solution.

 

The ions transferred are usually metal ions, for example: lithium (Li+), sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg2+), and calcium (Ca2+); but there are ionophores that promote the transfer of other ions, such as ammonium (NH4+) amines of biological interest.

Applications

These products have a wide variety of research applications, including in areas such as:

  • Organelle behavior
  • Defensive activity of bacteria
  • Antibiotics
  • Behaviors of synthetic bilayers
  • Diagnostic radio imaging
  • Pharmaceuticals

Click Here to download our Medical Device & Biosensor E-Brochure

Types of Ion Transporters

Mobile Ion Carriers

Mobile ion carriers bind to a particular ion, protecting its charge from the environment around it. Thus facilitating its passage into the hydrophobic interior of the lipid membrane. Mobile ion carriers lose their capacity to transport  ions under conditions of very low temperatures or below the freezing point of a membrane.

 

Diagram showing mode of action of ion carriers vs ion channels

Mode of action of ion carriers vs ion channels

Channel Formers

Channel formers act by introducing a hydrophilic pore into the membrane, allowing the ion to pass, avoiding contact with the hydrophobic interior of the membrane. Channel forming ionophores can maintain their ion transport capacity even in low temperature conditions that may inhibit mobile ion carriers.

 

The average opening time of a channel is approximately one second. However, if an intense gradient is added, the channel former can transport about 20,000 cations per channel open per millisecond.  This value is a thousand times greater than the number of cations that can pass in the same time interval for a single mobile ion carrier molecule.

AG Scientific’s Most Popular Ionophores

Shop all of our ionophore products here!

Product CAS Details
Valinomycin 2001-95-8 Induces K+ conductivity in cell membranes.
CA 1001 (Calcium Ionophore I) 58801-34-6 Very high selectivity for Ca2+ ions. CA 1001 determines Ca2+ activity in membrane electrodes and is utilized for transport studies in biological membranes.
Carbonate Ionophore VII 222310-82-9 Used in chromatography. Ion sensor compound used in ionophore potentiometric for ISE.
Lithium Ionophore VIII 133338-85-9 Carrier for lithium ion-selective solvent polymeric membrane electrodes. Used against Na+ and K+ cations.
Nonactin 6833-84-7 Used for ammonium ion determination in a potentiometric electrode for biosensor construction.

Additional Reading

Sources

  • “Ionophore.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Nov. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionophore.
  • Novilla, Meliton N. “Ionophores.” Ionophores - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, 2011, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/ionophores.
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38 Items

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  1. 4-Bromo-A23187
    4-Bromo-A23187
    A-1130

    Starting at $98.72

  2. A23187, Free Acid | CAS 52665-69-7 | Calcium Ionophore | AG Sci.
    A23187, Free Acid
    A-1020

    Starting at $78.34

  3. A23187, Mixed Calcium-Magnesium Salt
    A23187, Mixed Calcium-Magnesium Salt
    A-1128

    Starting at $60.52

  4. Ionomycin, Free Acid
    Ionomycin, Free Acid
    I-1014

    Starting at $89.34

  5. Monensin Sodium Salt
    Monensin Sodium Salt
    M-1211

    Starting at $72.02

  6. Ferutinin
    Ferutinin
    F-1140

    Starting at $40.20

  7. Nonactin | Cyclic Ionophore | CAS # 6833-84-7 | AG Scientific, Inc.
    Nonactin
    N-1155

    Starting at $114.99

  8. Enniatin B
    Enniatin B
    E-2024

    Starting at $156.34

  9. Nigericin Sodium Salt
    Nigericin Sodium Salt
    N-1103

    Starting at $73.71

  10. Valinomycin | CAS 2001-95-8 | Potassium ionophore | AG Scientific, Inc.
    Valinomycin
    V-1013

    Starting at $140.67

  11. Ionomycin, Ca Salt | CAS [56092-82-1] | calcium Ionophore | A.G. Scientific
    Ionomycin, Calcium Salt
    I-1015

    Starting at $78.19

  12. CA 1001 | CAS 58801-34-6 | Calcium Ionophore | IBOS optical sensor | AG Scientific, Inc.
    CA 1001 (Calcium Ionophore I)
    E-2026

    Starting at $301.51

  13. 5,10,15,20-Tetraphenyl-21H,23H-porphine manganese(III) chloride
    5,10,15,20-Tetraphenyl-21H,23H-porphine manganese(III) chloride
    C-1472

    Starting at $0.00

  14. Monensin EIA
    Monensin EIA
    M-1183

    Starting at $0.00

  15. Lithium Ionophore VIII chemical structure | CAS 13338-85-9 | AG Scientific, Inc.
    Lithium Ionophore VIII
    L-1185

    Starting at $2,160.88

  16. A-39183A
    A-39183A
    A-2573

    Starting at $335.02

  17. Avenaciolide
    Avenaciolide
    A-2649

    Starting at $281.41

  18. Deethylindanomycin
    Deethylindanomycin
    D-2477

    Starting at $335.02

  19. Dinactin
    Dinactin
    D-2521

    Starting at $395.32

  20. Enniatin A
    Enniatin A
    E-2423

    Starting at $225.58

  21. Enniatin A1
    Enniatin A1
    E-2425

    Starting at $225.58

  22. Enniatin B1
    Enniatin B1
    E-2427

    Starting at $225.58

  23. Indanomycin
    Indanomycin
    I-2561

    Starting at $335.02

  24. Lasalocid
    Lasalocid
    L-2527

    Starting at $145.17

  25. Lasalocid sodium
    Lasalocid sodium
    L-2529

    Starting at $145.17

  26. Leucinostatin A
    Leucinostatin A
    L-2539

    Starting at $189.37

  27. Maduramicin
    Maduramicin
    M-2553

    Starting at $212.19

  28. Maduramicin ammonium
    Maduramicin ammonium
    M-2555

    Starting at $145.17

  29. Monactin
    Monactin
    M-2603

    Starting at $395.32

  30. Narasin
    Narasin
    N-2589

    Starting at $212.19

  31. Narasin sodium
    Narasin sodium
    N-2591

    Starting at $145.17

  32. Salinomycin chemical structure | CAS 53003-10-4 | Polyether Ionophore | AG Scientific, Inc.
    Salinomycin
    S-2747

    Starting at $79.99

  33. Tetranactin
    Tetranactin
    T-2617

    Starting at $335.02

  34. Trinactin
    Trinactin
    T-2657

    Starting at $395.32

  35. Carbonate Ionophore VII
    Carbonate Ionophore VII
    C-8991

    Starting at $215.00

  36. Magnesium Ionophore I
    Magnesium Ionophore I
    M-4100

    Starting at $0.00

  37. Magnesium Ionophore III
    Magnesium Ionophore III
    M-4300

    Starting at $0.00

  38. Sodium Ionophore X
    Sodium Ionophore X
    S-7777

    Starting at $0.00

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