Brain cell potassium regulator is studied

Aug 17, 2006

U.S. scientists say proteins regulating brain-cell activity by controlling potassium ion flow behave more like volume controls than on-off switches.

The University of California-Davis researchers say the finding provides a new model for the behavior of critical gatekeeper proteins found in neuronal membranes.

"We've shown that brains cells regulate activity in an incremental way, with thousands of different possible levels of activity," explained Professor James Trimmer, senior author of the paper. He and his colleagues in the UC-Davis School of Medicine studied an ion channel that controls neuronal activity called Kv2.1, a type of voltage-gated potassium channel that is found in every neuron of the nervous system.

"Our work showed that this channel can exist in millions of different functional states, giving the cell the ability to dial its activity up or down depending on the what's going on in the external environment," said Trimmer. "It's an elegant feedback system."

The complete study is detailed in the current issue of the journal Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Dry roasting could help trigger peanut allergy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rio's Olympic golf course in legal bunker

4 hours ago

The return of golf to the Olympics after what will be 112 years by the time Rio hosts South America's first Games in 2016 comes amid accusations environmental laws were got round to build the facility in ...

Alibaba prices IPO at $68 per share

5 hours ago

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse named after a fabled, poor woodsman who discovers a thieves' den full of treasures, is ready to strike it rich on the New York Stock Exchange.

Recommended for you

Overwhelmed west Africa ramps up Ebola response

6 hours ago

West Africa intensified its response to the deadly Ebola epidemic on Sunday, with Sierra Leone uncovering scores of dead bodies during a 72-hour shutdown and Liberia announcing hundreds of new hospital beds.

User comments : 0