An Australian team published their findings on how the potassium gate has a sophisticated switch that employs such things as pulleys, other switches and an iris-like rotating latch that selectively lets in potassium ions. Our hearts and nervous system rely on potassium.
Potassium channels have been a popular area in research over the years, many groups have studied it. In 2001, nature published this about potassium channel research and more…
“Potassium, sodium, calcium and chloride ions are used ingeniously by living systems in the performance of fundamental cellular tasks. Through the action of ion pumps, a large fraction of a cell’s metabolic energy is spent establishing transmembrane ion gradients.”
“These gradients, through the action of ion channels, are used to produce electrical signals, activate signal transduction pathways, regulate cell volume, and mediate fluid and electrolyte transport. To carry out these tasks, an ion channel has to be selective, that is, permit only certain ionic species to flow through its pore.”
Precision is a key here when it comes to placement of charged ends of amino acids along the pore attracts the chloride ions down the channel, while not allowing ions to bind to them and get stuck. This specialized complexity (channels) needs to work accurately otherwise kidney or serious muscle diseases can occur. The paper is incorrect on this point, it was not the living systems that are the geniuses on how they were use channels but rather it’s the work of a intelligent designer namely God.
Let’s get back to the more recent discovery which reveals a creator but how? As scientists learn more about cellular machines the more it resembles man-made machines. And we all know man-made machines are what, created by intelligence! Just look at the new things they have discovered so far…
Rotors: “The structures cluster into two groups with distinct conformations, independent of space group and crystal form. The difference between the groups corresponds to a rigid body rotation of 23° (viewed from the membrane), about the molecular four-fold, of the entire intracellular assembly relative to the transmembrane pore .”
Pulleys: “Coupling is facilitated by actions of the N and C termini, which effectively act as a pulley system. The intracellular domain of each subunit is an immunoglobulin-like [beta] sandwich, overlaid on the surface by N and C termini. Its C terminus is tethered both to the N terminus and the underlying [beta] sandwich such that all motions are interdependent. In addition, parallel [beta] sheet interactions formed between [beta]CN on one subunit and [beta]M on another (Figure 3D) adapt the basic fold by interweaving neighboring subunits into a circle, coupling the motion of each subunit to that of its neighbor.”
Switches: “Our findings provide strong evidence that the selectivity filter can switch between nonconducting and conducting configurations without significant displacement of the inner helices. This is distinct from findings that inactivation at the selectivity filter is driven by widening at the bundle crossing, and vice versa ([Blunck et al., 2006] and [Cordero-Morales et al., 2007]). While research into selectivity filter gating has primarily focused on C-type inactivation, our data indicate that the selectivity filter is not limited to this and is susceptible to subtle global conformational change, suggesting a more universal role in gating than hitherto expected.”
Latches: “Intersubunit connections are clustered near the membrane in the arrangement, but they reorganize, in the unlatched arrangement, into a more extensive array of interactions.”
It is interesting to note, there is no mention of evolution in these papers for the most part except for some vague references to two channels being “highly conserved.” Other than that, it’s straight up science, learning about the incredible and highly advanced design we see in nature. So reflect for a moment when you feel a pleasant sensation that may come from smelling flowers or having that cup of coffee or feeling a gentle cool breeze on a warm day or a loving hug and think for a moment that those sensations don’t just happen.