Ion Channels

Ion channels are transmembrane pore forming proteins with the ability to regulate ion currents across cell membranes. As channels underlie nerve impulses and transmitter-activated channels mediate conduction across the synapses, ion channels are prominent regulators of the nervous system. In addition, ion channels are key components in a wide variety of biological processes that involve rapid changes in cells, such as cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle contraction, epithelial transport of nutrients and ions, T-cell activation and pancreatic beta-cell insulin release.

Functions of ion channels include establishing resting membrane potentials, shaping action potentials, gating the flow of ions across the cell membrane, controlling the flow of ions across secretory and epithelial cells, and regulating cell volume.