Wednesday, November 02, 2005

MIR ion channels

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Scientists propose new method for studying ion channel kinetics: "Scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new method for the study of ion channel gating kinetics. An ion channel is a protein pore that lets ions (charged atoms such as calcium) pass through a cell's membrane. The method fits data to a new class of models, called manifest interconductance rank (MIR) models, which will give researchers a better understanding of the mechanisms by which ion channels open and close.

Researchers have long been able to isolate a single channel and detect the flow of ions and to electrically observe whether the channel open and closed. By looking at how long the channel stays open or closed, they also could infer that there are several different open and closed states. Using models called Aggregated Markov Processes, the researchers are able to represent the undetectable changes between different open states, and between different closed states. However, there are an enormous number of ways to connect even a small number of states. For example, only four open and four closed states connect in more than 2 million possible ways."


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