Ion channels (genetics)
Nichols, Colin G. Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
Flagg, Thomas P. Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
- Ion channel structure
- Ion channel protein families
- Ion channel nomenclature
- Ion channel function
- Ion channels and diabetes
- Ion channels and cardiovascular diseases
- Ion channels and neurological diseases
- Future perspectives
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Ion channels are proteins that span cellular membranes and mediate the passage of electrolytes across the hydrophobic barrier that maintains the integrity of the cell and interior compartments. They are found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes and their structures are highly conserved. Ion channels come in a variety of types. Some are selective for cations, while others favor anions. Some are regulated by membrane voltage, while others are controlled by binding of ligands. It is now known that there are hundreds of genes encoding human ion channels, and some genes encode multiple functionally distinct variants as a result of alternative splicing [a process in gene expression that enables the production of multiple forms of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) from a single RNA transcript, thus enabling the production of multiple forms of protein from one gene]. The regulated and coordinated actions of ion channels are required to generate and transmit the electrical signals necessary for a myriad of operations that are essential for normal physiological function.
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