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A protein that imitates the sequence of a highly conserved segment predicted to line the pore of dihydropyridine-sensitive L-type calcium channels was designed and synthesized. Single-channel conductance properties were studied in planar lipid bilayers. The synthetic protein emulates the ionic conductance, ionic selectivity, and pharmacological properties of the authentic calcium channel, including the stereospecific action of agonist and antagonist enantiomers of the dihydropyridine BayK 8644. The identified sequence is identical in L-type calcium channels from skeletal muscle and isoforms of cardiac muscle, brain, and aorta. It is plausible that this structural motif represents the molecular blueprint for the pore-forming structure of voltage-gated calcium channels.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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