, Volume 454, Issue 3, pp 361-371
Date: 09 Mar 2007

Biodiversity of voltage sensor domain proteins

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The six-transmembrane type voltage-gated ion channels play an essential role in neuronal excitability, muscle contraction, and secretion. The voltage sensor domain (VSD) is the key element of voltage-gated ion channels for sensing transmembrane potential, and has been studied at the levels of both biophysics and protein structure. Two recently identified proteins containing VSD without a pore domain showed unexpected biological roles: regulation of phosphatase activity and proton permeation. These proteins not only provide novel platforms to understand mechanisms of voltage sensing and ion permeation but also highlight previously unappreciated roles of membrane potential in non-neuronal cells.