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:3/22/2016)... 2016 According to ... for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, Motion, Pressure, ... & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, & Wearable ... 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market for ... USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, at a ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... York , March 15, 2016 ... market report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock ... and Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock ... 731.9 Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at ... Growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... 2016 --> ... "Image Recognition Market by Technology (Pattern Recognition), by Component ... Deployment Type (On-Premises and Cloud), by Industry Vertical and ... MarketsandMarkets, the global market is expected to grow from ... by 2020, at a CAGR of 19.1%. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/18/2016)... , ... May 18, 2016 , ... ... Sciences Summer Camp at The University of Toledo. This two-day camp will take ... opportunity to explore the field of pharmaceutical sciences in preparation for a university ...
(Date:5/18/2016)... ... 18, 2016 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics has been helping graduating ... a total of $1 million in awarded scholarships. , The AMA is happy to ... across the nation has helped bring the total of AMA scholarships that have been ...
(Date:5/17/2016)... ... May 17, 2016 , ... ResearchDx, the ... consultancy based in Saudi Arabia, have formed a partnership to bring their expertise ... the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). , The partnership addresses the specific ...
(Date:5/17/2016)... , ... May 17, 2016 , ... A new study ... and bladder cancer and mesothelioma in families. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an article ... people with a family member with bladder or kidney cancer seem to be more ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: