About the book
Ion channels are membrane proteins that allow the passage of ions or charged small molecules through lipid membranes. They are present in every cell of every organism. Ion channels are involved in action potential propagation, cell volume regulation, signal transduction or they act as mechanosensors. Many types of ion channels have been observed, measured, and described since their discovery. Certain ion channels are so selective that they can distinguish between two small ions such as Na+ and K+. They differ in the speed of transport, in the shape of conductive pore or gating kinetics. Last, but not least, the regulation of ion channel activity covers a broad range of mechanisms. Though the channels vary in many ways, their primary role is the same – a controlled passage of ions in a safe way not to disturb the cellular homeostasis. Ion channels, regardless of the ion type they conduct, are often the target of medical treatment (verapamil, glibenclamide, benzodiazepine, etc.). Mutations in ion channels, which affect the channel activity or permeability, are behind diseases such as cystic fibrosis, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, malignant hyperthermia, epilepsy or several other channelopathies. Ion channels are of imminent interest in the field of life sciences with possible therapeutic outcomes. Each piece of knowledge, that can help us understand their role and function, is worthy of notice.
This book provides a versicolor insight on the diversity of ion channels and their function, regulation or biophysical properties.