Depiction of simulated potassium channel and surrounding environment. Potassium ions (green) are unable to pass through because water molecules (red and white) are present inside the protein, locking the channel into an inactivated state. Credit: Benoit Roux, University of Chicago
Just 12 molecules of water cause the long post-activation recovery period required by potassium ion channels before they can function again. Using molecular simulations that modeled a potassium channel and its immediate cellular environment, atom for atom, University of Chicago scientists have revealed this new mechanism in the function of a nearly universal biological structure, with implications ranging from fundamental biology to the design of pharmaceuticals. Their findings were published online July 28 in Nature.
“Our research clarifies the nature of this previously mysterious inactivation state. This gives us better understanding of fundamental biology and should improve the rational design of drugs, which often target the inactivated state of…
View original post 339 more words