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Proc Biol Sci. 1999 Apr 22;266(1421):843-52.

The screw-helical voltage gating of ion channels.

Author information

1
Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK. rdk12@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

In the voltage-gated ion channels of every animal, whether they are selective for K+, Na+ or Ca2+, the voltage sensors are the S4 transmembrane segments carrying four to eight positive charges always separated by two uncharged residues. It is proposed that they move across the membrane in a screw-helical fashion in a series of three or more steps that each transfer a single electronic charge. The unit steps are stabilized by ion pairing between the mobile positive charges and fixed negative charges, of which there are invariably two located near the inner ends of segments S2 and S3 and a third near the outer end of either S2 or S3. Opening of the channel involves three such steps in each domain.

PMID:
10343407
PMCID:
PMC1689903
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.1999.0714
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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