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Sci. STKE, 24 June 2003
Vol. 2003, Issue 188, p. re10
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.188.re10]


Voltage-Gated K Channels

Clay M. Armstrong*

Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6085, USA.

Abstract: Ion channels and the electrical properties they confer on cells are involved in every human characteristic that distinguishes us from the stones in a field. Every perception, thought, movement, and heartbeat depends on electrical signals generated by the activity of ion channels. Early views of the relationship between channel structure and function have undergone substantial modification following the cloning of various ion channels and the determination of the structure of a simple bacterial K channel, the KcsA channel. This review focuses on the relationship between the structure and function of voltage-dependent K channels, covering the molecular bases of channel selectivity, conduction, and gating. The evolution of ion channels in bacteria is discussed, as well as the basis of channel selectivity and conduction in the KcsA channel. More complex channels have evolved molecular "gatekeepers," allowing them to respond to appropriate stimuli by opening, closing, and inactivating.

*Contact information. E-mail, Carmstro{at}

Citation: C. M. Armstrong, Voltage-Gated K Channels. Sci. STKE 2003, re10 (2003).

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