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Cellular gates for sodium and calcium controlled by common element of ancient origin
Date:7/1/2014

a graduate student in Yue's laboratory, took up the question. "We thought that the conflicting results for sodium channels might be related to difficulties in existing methods to control the calcium concentrations that might affect these channels," Ben-Johny says.

Looking for a new way to approach the problem, Yue's team bound calcium ions in molecular "cages" that could be opened with a flash of light. This enabled them to "smuggle" calcium ions into cells and see what happened to sodium channels when the calcium concentration changed abruptly. They found that, as with calcium channels, increasing calcium concentrations caused calmodulin to bind within the resemblance element of sodium channels and prevent their opening, just as in calcium channels.

The implications of a common control element in sodium and calcium channels are vast, Yue says, including unified understanding of conditions that spring from defects in the calcium control of these channels. In addition, he says, "Researchers have long sought drugs that modulate sodium and calcium channels in new ways. Targeting the common control element offers a new frontier for developing next-generation pharmaceuticals."


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Contact: Shawna Williams
shawna@jhmi.edu
410-955-8236
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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