4/23 - Seminar (theoretical): Michael Klein, Temple University
Michael Klein - speaker's webpage
Department of Chemistry
Host: Garnet Chan
Understanding Nature’s Voltage Gated Ion Channels Using Computation
I will present an overview of the significant advances in the understanding the mechanism of action of voltage gated ion channels since the recent determination of x-ray structures of several prokaryotic voltage-gated potassium and sodium channels and their subsequent investigation using high performance computation and modeling. In contrast to what was learned from potassium selective channels, Molecular Dynamics (MD) studies of the available sodium channel structures point to a conduction mechanism where partially hydrated sodium ions can explore pore lining sites while being loosely coupled to other ions and water. Discrimination of sodium over other ionic species has also been the subject of intense research revealing the weakly-selective nature of sodium channel structures. Though the characterization of conduction and selectivity within prokaryotic channels holds promise to ultimately shed light on the structure-function interplay of more complex and pharmacologically relevant mammalian channels, much remains to be done to understand these really important nanoscale molecular machines.