Ion Channels

Ion channel (Wiki) 
Ion channels are pore-forming proteins that help establish and control the small voltage gradient across the plasma membrane of all living cells (see cell potential) by allowing the flow of ions down their electrochemical gradient.[1] They are present in the membranes that surround all biological cells.

File:Ion channel.png

"Schematic diagram of an ion channel. 1 - channel domains (typically four per channel), 2 - outer vestibule, 3 - selectivity filter, 4 - diameter of selectivity filter, 5 - phosphorylation site, 6 - cell membrane.

Ion channels regulate the flow of ions across the membrane in all cells. Ion channels are integral membrane proteins; or, more typically, an assembly of several proteins. Such "multi-subunit" assemblies usually involve a circular arrangement of identical or homologous proteins closely packed around a water-filled pore through the plane of the membrane or lipid bilayer. ... the archetypal channel pore is just one or two atoms wide at its narrowest point and is selective for specific species of ion, such as sodium or potassium.

Voltage-gated ion channels open or close depending on the voltage gradient across the plasma membrane, while ligand-gated ion channels open or close depending on binding of ligands to the channel.
"  "Because "voltage-activated" channels underlie the nerve impulse and because "transmitter-activated" channels mediate conduction across the synapses, channels are especially prominent components of the nervous system.


Inward-rectifier potassium ion channel - Wikipedia, the free ...