Congratulations to NGP student, Nate Yoder on his new paper in Nature!
For the first time, researchers in the Vollum Institute have determined the atomic structure of an acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) in a resting state at high pH. ASICs are expressed in neurons throughout the nervous system and contribute to a variety of neurological processes including pain sensation and fear memory formation. ASICs populate three functional states, existing in a resting state at high pH, opening in response to low pH and desensitizing within milliseconds. In their manuscript, published recently in the journal Nature, Yoder, Yoshioka and Gouaux used a combination of x-ray crystallography and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy to determine the structure of the resting channel. Additionally, the authors were able to determine the molecular mechanisms that allow the channel to respond to changes in pH by comparing the structure of the resting channel with those of the channel in open and desensitized states published in 2014 and 2009, respectively. These findings improve our understanding of how the nervous system responds to pH and provide a blueprint for the design of molecular agents to aimed at targeting these channels.
Nate's donor is the Bechen Family Foundation.