Voltage Dependent Potassium Channels

Subscribe to the KNI Email List

Rod MacKinnon, HHMI Investigator, Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics, Rockefeller University; 2003 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

Voltage Dependent Potassium Channels

February 13, 2006

4:00 P.M.

Roderick MacKinnon

Beckman Institute Auditorium
California Institute of Technology

Roderick MacKinnon, Rockefeller University/HHMI

Ion channels are responsible for generating electrical impulses and mediating numerous cellular processes. To accomplish their tasks in biology ion channels must exhibit two basic properties, selectivity and gating. Selectivity refers to the property of high fidelity discrimination among similar ions, while gating refers to protein conformational changes that open a channel in response to specific stimuli such as ligand binding or membrane voltage. Recent developments on the molecular principles of selectivity and gating in potassium channels will be presented.

Roderick MacKinnon received an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University, a medical degree from Tufts University, and training in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He then began his scientific career studying the biophysics of potassium channels at Brandeis University from 1986-1989. He joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School as Assistant Professor of Physiology (1989), Associate Professor of Neurobiology (1992) and Professor of Neurobiology (1995). During this period he and his laboratory characterized potassium channels - their subunit stoichiometry, pore-lining amino acids, and components of their gates - through biochemical and functional analysis. He then moved to Rockefeller University in 1996 where his laboratory has provided the first atomic descriptions of ion selective membrane channels. He is currently professor in the laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at Rockefeller University and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2003 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Peter Agre for his structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels.

Host: Paul Rothemund


Companion Tutorial: Principles of Selectivity in Ion Channels

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

9:30 am - 10:30 am, 153 Noyes