Ligand-gated ion channels

Ligand-gated ion channels are ion channels that are opened or closed (gated) by ligands, generally small molecules such as the second messenger cAMP and neurotransmitters. Ligand-gated ion channels lead to depolarization or hyperpolarization of the membrane. When located at synapses, ligand-gated ion channels convert the neurotransmitter signal from the pre-synaptic neuron into post-synaptic electrical signals.

Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • Research Highlights |

    Elimination of misfolded proteins of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) requires their retrotranslocation from the ER to the cytosol via membrane-bound ubiquitin ligase complexes. Baldridge and Rapoport now reconstitute a key step of retrotranslocation, demonstrating a protein conduit gated by ubiquitination.

    • Ting Zhang
    •  & Yihong Ye
    Cell Research 26, 1075-1076
  • News & Views |

    Crystal structure and drug pharmacophore structure-activity data guided a combined mutagenesis and chemical screen to develop ligand-gated ion channels activated by unique chemical agonists. Through genetic engineering, these channels can be used to manipulate neuronal excitability and dissect the neuronal circuitry responsible for complex behaviors.

    • Myles H Akabas
  • News & Views |

    Glutamate receptor ion channels use the free energy of ligand binding to trigger ion channel activation and desensitization. In this issue, an analysis of all-atom molecular dynamics simulations dissects the binding process, reveals a substantial gain in free energy produced by domain closure for agonists and reports unique energy landscapes for individual ligands.

    • Mark L Mayer