Speaker: Roderick MacKinnon, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University
Title: The molecular basis of cellular electricity
Life has exploited the electrical capacitor properties of cell membranes with fascinating elaboration. Proteins called ion channels carry electrical current as ions – Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Cl- – across the cell membrane. Precision on-off switching, a process referred to as ion channel gating, is essential to their operation. In this lecture I will discuss mechanisms of ion channel gating. These mechanisms permit the generation electrical impulses, control heart rate, and allow us to sense touch.