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iSGTW Image of the Week: Close the cellular gates

Image of the week: Close the cellular gates

Cells contain tiny protein "gates" that can allow material to enter the cell, or can shut to isolate the cell from the outside. These images show two dimensional slices through such ion channel "gates," showing changes in electrical potential in response to membrane stimuli.
Image courtesy of Reza Togharee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US

How does a cell in osmotic shock protect itself from bursting?

Studies suggest large membrane proteins may act as safety valves, shutting the gateways to the cell.

These membrane proteins, known as Mechanosensitive Channels of Small Conductance, or MscS ion channels, open and close in response to stimuli received at the cell membrane.

The images on the right show two-dimensional slices through such MscS ion channels, simulated with a BioMOCA-biological Monte Carlo-ion channel simulator.

Color indicates electrostatic potential, in volts, along with potassium and calcium ion concentrations after 100 nanoseconds of simulation.

These simulations were accomplished by coupling nanoHUB , Open Science Grid and TeraGrid resources.

This image originally appeared in the May 2006 edition of Biophysical Journal.

- Danielle Venton, iSGTW

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