Probing the Mechanism of Gating in Sodium Channels


The translocation of ions and water across cell membranes is a prerequisite for many of life’s processes. Voltage-gated Na+-channels are transmembrane proteins that are responsible for the fast depolarizing phase of the action potential in nerve and muscular cells. Selective permeability of Na+ over Ca2+ or K+ ions is essential for their biological function. The elucidation of the atomic resolution structure of a sodium selective channel [1] provides a fascinating model to glimpse into the functioning of this class of ion-channel.

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McCusker EC, Bagnéris C, Naylor CE, Cole AR, D'Avanzo N, Nichols CG, Wallace BA. Structure of a bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel pore reveals mechanisms of opening and closing.     Nature Commun. 3, 1102.


Ulmschneider, M.B., Bagnéris, C., McCusker, E.C., DeCaen, P.G., Delling, M., Clapham, D.E.,       Ulmschneider, J.P. and Wallace, B.A. (2013) Molecular dynamics of ion transport through the             open conformation of a bacterial voltage-gated sodium channel. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 110,            6364-6369.


S. Furini, C. Domene (2012) On conduction and selectivity in sodium channels.       PLoS Comput Biol, 2012


S. Furini, C. Domene (2011) Gating at the selectivity filter of ion channels that conduct Na+ and K+       ions. Biophys. J. 2011, 101, 1623-1631.


S. Furini, C. Domene (2009) Atypical mechanism of conduction in potassium channels.  Proc. Natl.          Acad. Sci. USA, 2009, 106 (38) 16074-16077.

Biological Areas:

Structural Biology


Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology