- Mechanism of AChR activation
Mukhtasimova et al. describe experimental modifications of the patch clamp technique that improve temporal resolution of currents through single acetylcholine receptor channels. The study not only distinguishes between the priming and gating steps, but it also reveals how rate and equilibrium constants change as a function of agonist occupancy.
- The anion/cation switch of the EAAT1 Cl− channel
Excitatory amino acid transporters possess a Cl− conductance whose direction is independent of that of the substrate. By mutating an arginine residue in the putative anion permeation pathway, Cater et al. show that a positive charge at this position determines anion selectivity.
- Patch-clamp fluorometry–based channel counting
The number of channels on a patch of membrane is a fundamental quantity for biophysical studies of ion channel mechanisms. Liu et al. develop a new method of channel counting based on patch-clamp fluorometry and use it to measure the single-channel conductance and ionic selectivity of HCN1 and HCN2 channels.
- Asn 14 mutant Cx26 hemichannels and KID syndrome
Mutations in connexin 26 hemichannels are the most common cause of congenital sensorineural hearing loss. Sanchez et al. investigate two mutations with disparate effects, N14K and N14Y, and find that the open state is stabilized in N14K channels.
- Role of Meta III decay in rod dark adaptation
G-protein receptor kinase and arrestin 1 are required for inactivation of photoactivated vertebrate rhodopsin. Frederiksen et al. show that they additionally regulate the subsequent decay of inactive rhodopsin into opsin and all-trans retinal and therefore dark adaptation.
- P2X7-like currents mediated by TRPM7
Extracellular ATP activates receptors such as P2X ligand-gated ion channels, but it also chelates divalent cations. Nörenberg et al. find that experimental conditions designed to measure P2X7 activity also activate TRPM7 channels, by relieving inhibition by extracellular divalent cations, in HEK293 and rat C6 glioma cells.
- Exceptionally high reactivity of TRPA1 Cys
Electrophiles produced during oxidative stress trigger pain responses by reacting with TRPA1 ion channels on sensory nerves. Bahia et al. show that residue C621 on TRPA1 has remarkable reactivity with electrophiles—more than cellular antioxidants—and is crucial for this sensory response.