Ion channel evolution

P. Brehm, Y. Okamura, G. Mandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Electrophysiological studies indicate that ion channels are present throughout the animal kingdom. Between distantly-related phyla, similarities in ion selectivity, gating, pharmacology and kinetics have obscured insights into how these proteins might have evolved. Moreover, deduced structures of a limited number of chordate and arthropod ion channels have shown that functionally disparate channel types often share a common structure. At least six different superfamilies of structurally-related ion channels have been described thus far, providing some clues for 'ancestral' proteins of a specific family. By contrast, evolutionary links (should they exist) among these superfamilies are less clear, requiring further structural analysis of ion channels in lower invertebrates, single-celled organisms and plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • invertebrate
  • membrane proteins
  • phylogeny
  • receptor
  • sequence homology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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