Research ArticlesBiophysics

The membrane protein Pannexin1 forms two open-channel conformations depending on the mode of activation

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Science Signaling  22 Jul 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 335, pp. ra69
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005431

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Changing Shape to Change Permeability

By releasing ATP, pannexins function as channels involved in responding to low oxygen, vascular tone, and inflammatory signaling. Whether pannexins always form ATP-permeable channels has been challenged. Wang et al. found that Pannexin1 formed a large-conductance, ATP-permeable channel when activated by potassium ions and a small-conductance channel impermeable to ATP when activated by voltage. Furthermore, electron microscopy showed that the channels had larger pores when formed in the presence of potassium ions and smaller pores when formed in the absence of potassium ions. Thus, Pannexin1 can assume distinct conformations with different permeabilities in response to different stimuli.

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