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Exp Physiol. 2004 Mar;89(2):145-53. Epub 2004 Feb 17.

Mechanisms of channel gating of the ligand-gated ion channel superfamily inferred from protein structure.

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Neurobiology Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, 384 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.


The nicotinic-like ligand-gated ion channel superfamily consists of a group of structurally related receptors that activate an ion channel after the binding of extracellular ligand. The recent publications of the crystal structure of an acetylcholine binding protein and a refined electron micrograph structure of the membrane-bound segment of an acetylcholine receptor have led to insights into the molecular determinants of receptor function. Although the structures confirmed much biochemical and electrophysiological data obtained about the receptors, they also provide opportunities to study further the mechanisms that allow channel activation stimulated by ligand-binding. Here we review the mechanisms of channel gating that have been elucidated by information gained from the structures of the acetylcholine binding protein and membrane-bound segment of the acetylcholine receptor.

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