The integral membrane protein composing the voltage-sensitive sodium channel is a bagel-like structure (Fig. 1) with a central pore that is highly selective for sodium ions. When the electric field across a cell's membrane becomes depolarized, the pore of the channel opens to allow sodium ions to flow down their electrochemical gradient into the cell1. Voltage-gating, a common feature of all voltage-activated channels, is an essential functional property that is only now being understood in terms of the structural features of the protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-527
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1987


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