Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gates open on understanding potassium channel controls

Date:
June 4, 2010
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Scientists have made a significant advance in understanding how potassium channels, which permit the flow of electric currents central to many of the body's biological processes, control the flow of these currents.

Potassium channels permit the flow of electric currents central to many of the body’s biological processes.
Credit: Cameron Wells, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists have made a significant advance in understanding how potassium channels, which permit the flow of electric currents central to many of the body's biological processes, control the flow of these currents.

Dr Jacqui Gulbis from the institute's Structural Biology division, who led the research, said previous studies that had identified what potassium channels look like had provided valuable insights into how they work. However, the way the channels open and close in response to regulatory signals has not been well understood.

"Potassium currents are central to many cellular processes, and particularly communication between cells," Dr Gulbis said.

"In the central nervous system, for example, electrical signaling underlies perception and movement; whilst in the heart, cardiac contraction relies upon the rhythmic ebb-and-flow of potassium. The electricity comes from the tiny charge associated with each potassium ion.

"Just as one would use a light switch to turn electrical current on and off, potassium channels use molecular gates to switch conduction on and off in response to physiological signals," Dr Gulbis said. "However, the nature of the gates and the gating process has remained unclear."

Potassium channels are specialised pores in cell membranes. They have a signature region termed the ion selectivity filter, which is responsible for ensuring that only potassium, and not sodium, permeates the membrane.

Dr Gulbis, with Mr Oliver Clarke, Dr Brian Smith and Mr Alex Caputo from the institute's Structural Biology division, in collaboration with Dr Jamie Vandenberg and Dr Adam Hill from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, has illuminated key aspects of the gating process.

Although previous studies have implicated a constriction in the ion conduction pathway in gating, this study describes a gate that is located in the ion selectivity filter.

Using the Australian Synchrotron, Dr Gulbis's team determined that once the conformation of a regulatory domain -- which is the part of the channel that sits inside the cell -- changes, it allows the selectivity filter to act as an on/off switch.

The findings have been published June 3 in the journal Cell.

The research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Victorian Government.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Oliver B. Clarke, Alessandro T. Caputo, Adam P. Hill, Jamie I. Vandenberg, Brian J. Smith, Jacqueline M. Gulbissend. Domain Reorientation and Rotation of an Intracellular Assembly Regulate Conduction in Kir Potassium Channels. Cell, June 3, 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.05.003

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Gates open on understanding potassium channel controls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603123717.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2010, June 4). Gates open on understanding potassium channel controls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603123717.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Gates open on understanding potassium channel controls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603123717.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Respiratory Virus Spreads To Northeast, Now In 21 States

Respiratory Virus Spreads To Northeast, Now In 21 States

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) The respiratory virus Enterovirus D68, which targets children, has spread from the Midwest to 21 states. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins