Toxin-based interrogation of voltage-gated ion channels

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Monday, April 17, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Mirela Milescu
Speaker Title: 
Assistant Professor
Speaker Affiliation: 
University of Missouri, Columbia
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Voltage-gated ion channels play a critical role in all excitable cells and loss or gain of their physiological function is the cause of many neurological and cardiac disorders, such as epilepsy and heart failure. These channels are gated by membrane depolarization, via conformational changes in specialized structural elements called voltage-sensors. The structure and function of voltage-gated channels can be examined with amphipathic toxins extracted from animal venom. These peptides insert into the membrane bilayer to reach and bind with high affinity to the ion channel paddle, a conserved structural motif within the voltage-sensor, thus altering the voltage-dependent gating of the channel. The lipids in the cellular membrane are also involved in this interaction but the overall mechanism is unknown.

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