Ion channels | Slides | Beckstein Lab

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Ion channels

Ion channels

An image of the simulated water density in the M2 helices of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ion channel. The broken density (less water) indicates the region of the hydrophobic gate where the ion flow is controlled.

The science behind the image is described in the article A Hydrophobic Gate in an Ion Channel: The Closed State of the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (published in Physical Biology, 3 (2006), 147–159).

The image was created by loading the average water density from a molecular dynamics simulation (produced by our gridcount tools) and the M2 helices of nAChR into VMD and rendering it with Raster3D 2.7c.

The image was awarded a Highly commended in the Concepts category of the Visions of Science 2005 competition.

Visions of Science is a photographic awards scheme organised by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and co-sponsored by the Daily Telegraph to encourage ongoing discussion about science. […] To the judges of the Awards, a Vision of Science is an attention-grabbing image that gives new insight into the world of science and the workings of nature. It may show something never seen before, it may explain a scientific phenomenon, it may illustrate scientific data or it may simply be an image that shows the beauty of science.

Solvated transmembrane pore of the nAChR ion channel.

The five M2 helices lining the pore of the nAChR ion channel are shown in rainbow colors. The water density inside the pore is depicted as a transparent surface. The region of broken water density near the center of the image indicates the hydrophobic gate where the flow of ions is controlled.