Ion Channels

Open and Shut Case

Science Signaling  17 Apr 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 220, pp. ec110
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003138

Voltage-sensing domains (VSDs) control the activity of voltage-gated ion channels to regulate the ion flow that underlies nerve conduction. Structural and biophysical studies have provided insight into voltage gating; however, understanding has been hindered by the lack of a crystal structure of a fully closed state. Starting from a structure of an open conducting state, a voltage-gated K+ channel, Jensen et al. used all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to show the conformational changes involved in switching to the closed, nonconducting state. Additional simulations revealed the major steps of channel activation. The computational determination of a closed state may guide development of drugs to treat channelopathies associated with this resting state

M. Ø. Jensen, V. Jogini, D. W. Borhani, A. E. Leffler, R. O. Dror, D. E. Shaw, Mechanism of voltage gating in potassium channels. Science 336, 229–233 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]