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Dynamics of ionic flows via Poisson-Nernst-Planck systems with local hard-sphere potentials: Competition between cations

1 Department of Mathematics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
2 Department of Mathematics, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801, USA

We study a quasi-one-dimensional steady-state Poisson-Nernst-Planck type model for ionic flows through a membrane channel with three ion species, two positively charged with the same valence and one negatively charged. Bikerman’s local hard-sphere potential is included in the model to account for ion sizes. The problem is treated as a boundary value problem of a singularly perturbed differential system. Under the framework of a geometric singular perturbation theory, together with specific structures of this concrete model, the existence and uniqueness of solutions to the boundary value problem for small ion sizes is established. Furthermore, treating the ion sizes as small parameters, we derive an approximation of individual fluxes, from which one can further study the qualitative properties of ionic flows and extract concrete information directly related to biological measurements. Of particular interest is the competition between two cations due to the nonlinear interplay between finite ion sizes, diffusion coefficients and boundary conditions, which is closely related to selectivity phenomena of open ion channels with given protein structures. Furthermore, we are able to characterize the distinct effects of the nonlinear interplays between these physical parameters. Numerical simulations are performed to identify some critical potentials which play critical roles in examining properties of ionic flows in our analysis.
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