Voltage-Gated K Channels

Science's STKE  24 Jun 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 188, pp. re10
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.188.re10

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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.

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