Lighting up single ion channels

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The holy grail of ion channel studies is to produce an atomic scale movie of an ion channel at work, simultaneously observing conformational and electrical changes as ions flow through the protein. Significant milestones toward this goal include the x-ray crystallography work of Mackinnon et al., which gave us atomic-resolution snapshots of potassium (Zhou et al., 2001) and chloride channels (Dutzler et al., 2002), and patch clamping, which revolutionized the field by giving us the ability to measure ionic currents through single ion channels. Via patch-clamping, kinetics and transitions from different states that affected ionic flow could be detected, thereby revealing a plethora of opened and closed states. Because ion channels stochastically open and close, many of these states could only be revealed by single molecule measurements: measuring ensembles of channels yields only average properties of the open and closed states. [...]




Selvin, P. R. (2003, January 1). Lighting up single ion channels. Biophysical Journal. Biophysical Society.

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