Research Article

Structural basis for the modulation of voltage-gated sodium channels by animal toxins

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Science  19 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6412, eaau2596
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2596

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Structures of voltage-gated sodium channels

In “excitable” cells, like neurons and muscle cells, a difference in electrical potential is used to transmit signals across the cell membrane. This difference is regulated by opening or closing ion channels in the cell membrane. For example, mutations in human voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels are associated with disorders such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and cardiac arrhythmia. Pan et al. report the high-resolution structure of a human Nav channel, and Shen et al. report the structures of an insect Nav channel bound to the toxins that cause pufferfish and shellfish poisoning in humans. Together, the structures give insight into the molecular basis of sodium ion permeation and provide a path toward structure-based drug discovery.

Science, this issue p. eaau2486, p. eaau2596