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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of toxic environmental contaminants on voltage-gated calcium channel function: from past to present.

Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are targets of the number of naturally occurring toxins, therapeutic agents as well as environmental toxicants. Because of similarities of their chemical structure to Ca2+ in terms of hydrated ionic radius, electron orbital configuration, or other chemical properties, polyvalent cations from aluminum to zinc variously interact with multiple types of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. These nonphysiological metals have been used to study the structure and function of the Ca2+ channel, especially its permeability characteristics. Two nonphysiological cations, Pb2+ and Hg2+, as well as their organic derivatives, are environmental neurotoxicants which are highly potent Ca2+ channel blockers. These metals also apparently gain intracellular access in part by permeating through Ca2+ channels. In this review the history of Ca2+ channel block produced by Pb2+ and Hg2+ as well as other nonphysiological cations is traced. In particular the characteristics of Ca2+ channel block induced by these environmental neurotoxic metals and the consequences of this action for neuronal function are discussed.[1]


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