Mechanisms and physiological implications of cooperative gating of clustered ion channels

Rose E. Dixon, Manuel F. Navedo, Marc D. Binder, L. Fernando Santana

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ion channels play a central role in the regulation of nearly every cellular process. Dating back to the classic 1952 Hodgkin-Huxley model of the generation of the action potential, ion channels have always been thought of as independent agents. A myriad of recent experimental findings exploiting advances in electrophysiology, structural biology, and imaging techniques, however, have posed a serious challenge to this long-held axiom, as several classes of ion channels appear to open and close in a coordinated, cooperative manner. Ion channel cooperativity ranges from variable-sized oligomeric cooperative gating in voltage-gated, dihydropyridine-sensitive CaV1.2 and CaV1.3 channels to obligatory dimeric assembly and gating of voltage-gated NaV1.5 channels. Potassium channels, transient receptor potential channels, hyperpolarization cyclic nucleotide-activated channels, ryanodine receptors (RyRs), and inositol trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) have also been shown to gate cooperatively. The implications of cooperative gating of these ion channels range from fine-tuning excitation-contraction coupling in muscle cells to regulating cardiac function and vascular tone, to modulation of action potential and conduction velocity in neurons and cardiac cells, and to control of pacemaking activity in the heart. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms leading to cooperative gating of ion channels, their physiological consequences, and how alterations in cooperative gating of ion channels may induce a range of clinically significant pathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1210
Number of pages52
JournalPhysiological reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • calcium signaling
  • channel clustering
  • cooperative gating
  • excitability
  • stochastic self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology (medical)


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