Mechanisms of action of ligands of potential-dependent sodium channels

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Potential-dependent sodium channels play a leading role in generating action potentials in excitable cells. Sodium channels are the site of action of a variety of modulator ligands. Despite numerous studies, the mechanisms of action of many modulators remain incompletely understood. The main reason that many important questions cannot be resolved is that there is a lack of precise data on the structures of the channels themselves. Structurally, potential-dependent sodium channels are members of the P-loop channel superfamily, which also include potassium and calcium channels and glutamate receptor channels. Crystallization of a series of potassium channels showed that it was possible to analyze the structures of different members of the superfamily using the “homologous modeling” method. The present study addresses model investigations of the actions of ligands of sodium channels, including tetrodotoxin and batrachotoxin, as well as local anesthetics. Comparison of experimental data on sodium channel ligands with x-ray analysis data allowed us to reach a new level of understanding of the mechanisms of channel modulation and to propose a series of experimentally verifiable hypotheses.

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