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FEBS Lett. 2003 Nov 27;555(1):85-90.

Ion channel gating: insights via molecular simulations.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.


Ion channels are gated, i.e. they can switch conformation between a closed and an open state. Molecular dynamics simulations may be used to study the conformational dynamics of ion channels and of simple channel models. Simulations on model nanopores reveal that a narrow (<4 A) hydrophobic region can form a functionally closed gate in the channel and can be opened by either a small (approximately 1 A) increase in pore radius or an increase in polarity. Modelling and simulation studies confirm the importance of hydrophobic gating in K channels, and support a model in which hinge-bending of the pore-lining M2 (or S6 in Kv channels) helices underlies channel gating. Simulations of a simple outer membrane protein, OmpA, indicate that a gate may also be formed by interactions of charged side chains within a pore, as is also the case in ClC channels.

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