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Neuron. 2008 Feb 7;57(3):345-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.01.015.

A common pathway for charge transport through voltage-sensing domains.

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Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Voltage-gated ion channels derive their voltage sensitivity from the movement of specific charged residues in response to a change in transmembrane potential. Several studies on mechanisms of voltage sensing in ion channels support the idea that these gating charges move through a well-defined permeation pathway. This gating pathway in a voltage-gated ion channel can also be mutated to transport free cations, including protons. The recent discovery of proton channels with sequence homology to the voltage-sensing domains suggests that evolution has perhaps exploited the same gating pathway to generate a bona fide voltage-dependent proton transporter. Here we will discuss implications of these findings on the mechanisms underlying charge (and ion) transport by voltage-sensing domains.

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