Voltage-gated ion channels are composed of pore-forming subunits, as well as auxiliary subunits that modify the functions of these channels. In addition, the channels interact with other modulatory proteins in a more transient manner, although with significant effects on channel activity. Even though many second-messenger systems influence the voltage-gated ion channels, only in a few cases has clear evidence for direct protein-protein interactions been demonstrated. Recent biochemical and genetic studies have helped to elucidate the scope of the interactions between these ion channels and various modulatory proteins by determining the structures and functions of nonpore-forming subunits.
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