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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Feb;1808(2):580-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2010.04.008. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Minimal art: or why small viral K(+) channels are good tools for understanding basic structure and function relations.

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Institute of Botany, Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt, Schnittspahnstrasse 3, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany.


Some algal viruses contain genes that encode proteins with the hallmarks of K(+) channels. One feature of these proteins is that they are less than 100 amino acids in size, which make them truly minimal for a K(+) channel protein. That is, they consist of only the pore module present in more complex K(+) channels. The combination of miniature size and the functional robustness of the viral K(+) channels make them ideal model systems for studying how K(+) channels work. Here we summarize recent structure/function correlates from these channels, which provide insight into functional properties such as gating, pharmacology and sorting in cells.

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