IMR Press / FBL / Volume 3 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.2741/A294

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Four varieties of voltage-gated proton channels
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1 Department of Molecular Biophysics and Physiology, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 1998, 3(4), 477–482;
Published: 1 May 1998

The properties of voltage-gated proton channels are reviewed, with an emphasis on comparing different cells. Characteristic properties of these unique ion channels are shared by all members of this family. By definition, these channels are voltage-gated, opening upon depolarization of the membrane. Gating is tightly regulated by pHo and pHi  resulting in only outward current. H+ channels are inhibited by Cd2+ and Zn2+. Proton channels are extremely selective - no other ions are detectably permeant. H+  currents increase at low pH, but only about two-fold/Unit decrease in pHi. Single channel currents have not been measured, and are likely very small (a few fA). Kinetic properties vary dramatically, suggesting categorization of known H+  channels into four isoforms. Type n channels in snail neurons have extremely rapid gating kinetics, opening and closing in a few milliseconds. Type o channels in newt oocytes and type e in epithelial cells gate more slowly. Type e channels close with a double exponential time course. Type p channels, found mainly in phagocytes, have the slowest gating kinetics, under certain conditions requiring many seconds to open. This tentative classification will evolve, as more information becomes available. 

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