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Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(4):429-42.

Na+ channel pharmacology and molecular mechanisms of gating.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Hiroshima University Kasumi 1-2-3, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 734-8551, Japan.


Electrogenesis of efficiently propagated action potentials requires synchronized opening of transmembrane Na+ channels possessing a sodium selectivity-filter, a high-throughput ion-conductance pathway, and voltage-dependent gating functions. These properties of the Na+ channel have long been the target of molecular analysis. Several toxins and drugs, known to selectively bind to Na+ channels, have been used as pharmacological tools to investigate Na+ channel properties either electrophysiologically or chemically. Recent analyses of the protein crystal structure of bacterial voltage-dependent K+ channels have provided important clues to the identity of mobile structures involved in channel gating. The new information may be applicable to Na+ channels, and may well require a total revision of our understanding of gating mechanisms of sodium channels. Several experiments challenge the emerging view that channel gating by S6 transmembrane segments is triggered by signals from voltage sensors floating in membrane lipid. Herein, we review the various toxin and drug molecules that affect the gating behavior of Na+ channels in this new structural framework, by characterizing the binding sites of these toxins, and assessing the pharmacological effects resulting from changes in the structure of the toxin or sodium channel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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