Voltage Gated Sodium Channels

Volume 221 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 269-291


Bacterial Sodium Channels: Models for Eukaryotic Sodium and Calcium Channels

  • Todd ScheuerAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology, University of Washington School of Medicine Email author 

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Eukaryotic sodium and calcium channels are made up of four linked homologous but different transmembrane domains. Bacteria express sodium channels comprised of four identical subunits, each being analogous to a single homologous domain of their eukaryotic counterparts. Key elements of primary structure are conserved between bacterial and eukaryotic sodium and calcium channels. The simple protein structure of the bacterial channels has allowed extensive structure–function probes of key regions as well as allowing determination of several X-ray crystallographic structures of these channels. The structures have revealed novel features of sodium and calcium channel pores and elucidated the structural importance of many of the conserved features of primary sequence. The structural information has also formed the basis for computational studies probing the basis for sodium and calcium selectivity and gating.


Sodium channels Calcium channels Structure Bacterial proteins Structure–activity relationship Channel permeation Channel gating Ion transport