Dazzling snapshots show how ions power nerve signals round the body.
Hole story: channels like this underlie all our movements and thoughts.
© Nature/Morais-Cabral et al.
The seventh seal: ions other than potassium cant get through
© Nature/Zhou et al.
"Potassium channels underlie all our movements and thoughts," says Rod MacKinnon of Rockefeller University in New York. His team has now unravelled the molecular mechanics of these minute protein pores. Some say the work merits a Nobel Prize.
Potassium (K+) channels power the transmission of nerve signals through the body and the brain by ushering K+ ions in and out of our cells. MacKinnon and his colleagues have taken high-resolution snapshots of the channels in action, revealing how, and how fast, individual K+ ions pass through1,2. Its a remarkable feat - the K+ channels aperture is more than a hundred thousand times thinner than a sheet of paper, at under six Angstroms wide.
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