More pieces of the K+ ion channel puzzle

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Abstract

The secrets of biology's fastest switches — ion channels — are revealed.

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Figure 1: Solvent-accessible surface of the tetrameric bacterial KcsA channel.
Figure 2: Cartoon diagram showing the major α-helical regions of two subunits in the KcsA channel embedded in the membrane.
Figure 4: Pieces of the voltage-gated selective K+ channel puzzle.
Figure 3: EPR-determined conformational change in the inner (M2) α-helices of KcsA.

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Acknowledgements

I am deeply indebted to the participants of the recent Ion Channels Structures and Function meeting organized by S. Goldstein at Yale University School of Medicine, July 16–18, 1999, and to C. Miller for many metaphors and insights. Figures of T1 tetramers were generously provided by A. Kreusch at the Salk Institute; figures of KcsA and Kvβ2 were provided by J.M. Gulbis and R. MacKinnon at the Rockfeller University.

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