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Science 329 (5988): 151-152

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Biochemistry

Old Gate Gets a New Look

Simone Weyand1,2, and So Iwata1,2,3

Cells are constantly exchanging water-soluble molecules like nutrients and inorganic ions with their environment. The movement of these molecules across the cell's plasma membrane is mediated by various transport proteins that create pores through the membrane's lipid bilayer. One type of transport protein, an ion channel, is responsible for transporting certain ions, such as potassium, calcium, or sodium. Ion channels have filters that make the channel permeable only to a specific kind of ion and gates that regulate the flow of ions through the channel. Gates can be controlled by chemical and/or electrical signals, including those created by differences in the voltage inside and outside the cell (membrane potential), and the concentrations of binding molecules (ligands). On page 182, Yuan et al. offer new insights into the structure of an important potassium ion channel and the cues that cause its gate to open and close (1).

1 Division of Molecular Biosciences, Membrane Protein Crystallography Group, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK.
2 Membrane Protein Laboratory, Diamond Light Source, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0DE, UK.
3 Department of Cell Biology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Konoe-cho, Sakyo-Ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.

E-mail: s.iwata{at}imperial.ac.uk



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