Voltage-sensitive ion channels are macromolecules embedded in the membranes of nerve and muscle fibers of animals. Because of their physiological functions, biochemical structures and electrical switching properties, they are at an intersection of biology, chemistry and physics. Despite decades of intensive research under the traditional approach of gated structural pores, the relation between the structure of these molecules and their function remains enigmatic.
This book critically examines physically oriented approaches not covered in other ion-channel books. It looks at optical and thermal as well as electrical data, and at studies in the frequency domain as well as in the time domain. Rather than presenting the reader with only an option of mechanistic models at an inappropriate pseudo-macroscopic scale, it emphasizes concepts established in organic chemistry and condensed state physics. The book's approach to the understanding of these unique structures breaks with the unproven view of ion channels as structurally gated pores. Rather, it proposes gateless gating, in which the onset and cessation of avalanches of ions crossing the membrane is explained as a cooperative phenomenon in a system poised far from equilibrium. These events, called channel opening and closing, are initiated by an electrical depolarization, a mechanical stimulus or even a thermal fluctuation.
From the reviews: "...this well-written and thoroughly researched book is Dr. Leuchtag's crowning achievement as it presents ion channel structure and function painted on a broad canvass of biological, physical and mathematical backdrop that is needed to properly understand these small yet hugely important biological switches." Prof. Jack Tuszynski: Allard Research Chair Division of Experimental Oncology, Room 3336, Cross Cancer Institute, 11560 University Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6G 1Z2 Canada "! This book is an impressive sum of more than 500 pages dealing with conventional as well as unconventional views on excitability and channels with some historic remainders on animal electricity and general considerations on 'information in the living body' including primitive forms such as bacteria swimming! Professor Leuchtag's book is well written, easy to read, despite necessary theoretical disgressions, resulting in a real interdisciplinary account (even sometimes thought-provoking) of what is presently known about voltage-sensitive ion channels and molecular excitability." Herve Duclohier is in the Physiopathology and Pharmacology of Ion Channels Group, UMR 6187-Universite de Poitiers, 40 Avenue du Recteur Pineau, 86022 POITIERS (France). E-mail : Herve.Duclohier@univ-poitiers.fr "! Voltage-sensitive ion channels are macromolecules embedded in the membranes of nerve and muscle fibers of animals. Because of their physiological functions, biochemical structures and electrical switching properties, they are at an intersection of biology, chemistry and physics! The book is very well referenced!and is a challenge for physicists and biologists alike!Experts in both fields, as well as young graduates will certainly benefit from the vast amount of information collected; moreover, they may be motivated for an exciting journey to living matter from a physical perspective." Alexander G. Petrov, PhD, DSc, FBAS, Director, Institute of Solid State Physics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia
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