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Ion channels

from atomic resolution physiology to functional genomics


Ion channels are a diverse class of transmembrane proteins responsible for rapid passive movement of selected ions across cell membranes. They play a crucial role in regulating diverse cell functions in both electrically excitable and non-excitable cells, and have been found in organisms ranging from viruses and bacteria to plants and mammals. An increasing number of diseases are associated with dysfunction of ion channels. In particular, many human neurological and muscular disorders have been traced to defects in voltage-gated and ligand-gated ion channels. Furthermore, ion channels provide paradigms for other, possibly more complex, membrane transport proteins. In this respect, they present an almost unique opportunity to use computational approaches to attempt to understand the function of membrane proteins, starting with an atomic resolution structure and progressing through a hierarchy of theoretical descriptions until one can account quantitatively for their physiological function. This important book results from a meeting of physiologists, structural biologists and theorists who came together to discuss their work and help define future directions. Topics covered include the X-ray structure of channels and pores, computer simulation of channel function, and detailed data on individual ion channels.

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