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

The permeation of organic cations through cAMP-gated channels in mammalian olfactory receptor neurons.

The permeation of monovalent organic cations through adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate-(cAMP) activated channels was studied by recording macroscopic currents in excised inside-out membrane patches from the dendritic knobs of isolated mammalian olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Current-voltage relations were measured when bathing solution Na+ was replaced by monovalent organic cations. Permeability ratios relative to Na+ ions were calculated from changes in reversal potentials. Some of the small organic cations tested included ammonium (NH4+), hydroxylammonium and formamidinium, with relative permeability ratios of 1.41, 2.3 and 1.01 respectively. The larger methylated and ethylated ammonium ions studied included: DMA (dimethylammonium), TMA (tetramethylammonium) and TEA (tetraethylammonium) and they all had permeability ratios larger than 0.09. Even large cations such as choline, arginine and tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane (Tris) were appreciably permeant through the cAMP-activated channel with permeability ratios ranging from 0.19 to 0. 7. The size of the permeating cations, as assessed by molecular weight, was a good predictor of the permeability. The permeability sequence of the cAMP-activated channel in our study was PNH4 > PNa > PDMA > PTMA > PCholine > PTEA. Higher permeability ratios of hydroxylammonium, arginine and tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane cannot be explained by ionic size alone. Our results indicate that: (i) cAMP-activated channels poorly select between monovalent cations; (ii) the pore dimension must be at least 6.5 x 6.5 A, in order to allow TEA and Tris to permeate and (iii) molecular sieving must be an important mechanism for the permeation of large organic ions through the channels with specific ion binding playing a smaller role than in other structurally similar channels. In addition, the results clearly indicate that cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels in different cells are not the same, the olfactory CNG channel being different from that of the photoreceptors, particularly with respect to the permeation of large organic cations, which the ORN channels allow to permeate readily.[1]


  1. The permeation of organic cations through cAMP-gated channels in mammalian olfactory receptor neurons. Balasubramanian, S., Lynch, J.W., Barry, P.H. J. Membr. Biol. (1995) [Pubmed]
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