Composition of an important ion channel elucidated

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Bartoi T, Augustinowski K, Polleichtner G, Gründer S, Ulbrich MH.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: 8281 – 8286

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/22/8281.abstract

Composition of an important ion channel elucidated.

Ion channels usually are oligomeric proteins – they are composed of different subunits, which can be identical or different. The hetero-oligomeric acid-sensing ion channel 1a/2a is broadly expressed in the brain and it has been shown that its blockade causes strong analgesia. In our paper "Acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) 1a/2a heteromers have a flexible 2:1/1:2 stoichiometry" we show in collaboration with Maximilian Ulbrich from the University of Freiburg that ASIC1a/2a heteromers have a flexible stoichiometry which is uncommon for ion channels. The flexible composition of ASIC1a/2a presumably allows to fine tune its properties. Because drugs often bind at subunit interfaces, our results are important to understand the pharmacology of the ASIC1a/2a heteromer.