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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2003 Aug;13(4):432-42.

Structure and mechanism in prokaryotic mechanosensitive channels.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Mechanosensitive channels function as electromechanical switches with the capability to sense the physical state of lipid bilayers. The X-ray crystal structures of MscL and MscS offer a unique opportunity to identify the types of protein motions associated with the opening and closing of these structurally unrelated channels, while providing the framework to address a mechanism of tension sensing that is defined by channel-lipid interactions. Recent functional, structural and dynamic data offer fresh insights into the molecular basis of gating for these membrane proteins.

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