A common pathway for charge transport through voltage-sensing domains

Neuron. 2008 Feb 7;57(3):345-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.01.015.


Voltage-gated ion channels derive their voltage sensitivity from the movement of specific charged residues in response to a change in transmembrane potential. Several studies on mechanisms of voltage sensing in ion channels support the idea that these gating charges move through a well-defined permeation pathway. This gating pathway in a voltage-gated ion channel can also be mutated to transport free cations, including protons. The recent discovery of proton channels with sequence homology to the voltage-sensing domains suggests that evolution has perhaps exploited the same gating pathway to generate a bona fide voltage-dependent proton transporter. Here we will discuss implications of these findings on the mechanisms underlying charge (and ion) transport by voltage-sensing domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / chemistry
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Ion Transport*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology*


  • Ion Channels