HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Researchers discover structure of Nature's 'circuit breaker'

Researchers have answered an important question in biology by discovering the exquisite mechanism by which channels in the cell membrane sense voltage changes that trigger them to snap open or slam shut with extraordinary speed and precision.

Voltage-dependent ion channels are central to the function of nerves and muscles, and without them the brain would immediately suffer neural gridlock and the heart would seize up.

According to the researchers, which were led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Roderick MacKinnon, the discovery may lead to a new class of drugs for neurological, heart and muscle disorders that can exert more subtle influences on the activity of ion channels.

MacKinnon and his colleagues at The Rockefeller University published their findings in two papers in the May 1, 2003, issue of the journal Nature. Specifically, the researchers deduced the structure and function of the voltage-sensing mechanism in a potassium channel of an archaebacterium that thrives in the near-boiling temperatures of hot springs. However, they said, the mechanism undoubtedly applies to voltage-sensing calcium and sodium channels as well, and is present in organisms from the most ancient bacteria to humans.

Voltage-dependent potassium ion channels are precise molecular machines that are critical to propagating electrical impulses in the brain and heart. The channels are large proteins with a pore that pierces the cell membrane and is designed to allow only the passage of potassium ions. When an electrical impulse travels along a nerve, the charge on the cell membrane changes -- with the outside becoming more negative -- triggering these ion channels to open and allowing potassium to flow out of the cell. This outflow of potassium allows the membrane to return to its resting state and prepare for the next impulse.

According to MacKinnon -- whose pa
'"/>

Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
30-Apr-2003


Page: 1 2 3 4

Related biology news :

1. Researchers determine genetic cause of Timothy syndrome
2. Researchers find color sensitive atomic switch in bacteria
3. Researchers identify protein promoting vascular tumor growth
4. Researchers devise potent new tools to curb ivory poaching
5. Researchers create nanotubes that change colors, form nanocarpet and kill bacteria
6. Researchers ID chlorophyll-regulating gene
7. Researchers develop fast track way to discover how cells are regulated
8. Researchers identify distinctive signature for metastatic prostate cancer
9. Researchers report new gene test for isolated cleft lip and palate
10. Researchers discover why mutant gene causes colon cancer
11. Researchers identify the genomes controlling elements

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/30/2017)... 2017 Today, American Trucking Associations announced ... face and eye tracking software, became the newest ... "Artificial intelligence and advanced sensing ... a driver,s attentiveness levels while on the road.  ... detect fatigue and prevent potential accidents, which could ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... -- Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor sense ... Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will be available ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at the IIT ... Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur Sergio ... ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... 5, 2017 RAM Group , ... new breakthrough in biometric authentication based on a ... properties to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are ... created by Ram Group and its partners. This sensor ... supply chains and security. Ram Group is a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... any gene in its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use ... with small RNA guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ., a data ... titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with Dr. Nicolas Cacciabeve, ... and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase in diagnostic confidence.* ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Georgia (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing ... taking the lives of over 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in ... greenovative startup Treepex - based in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal ... growth period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: