Meeting of the minds: metalloneurochemistry
Burdette SC, Lippard SJ.
Department of Chemistry,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 1;100(7):3605-10. Epub 2003 Mar 24.


Metalloneurochemistry is the study of metal ion function in the brain and nervous system at the molecular level. Research in this area is exemplified through discussion of several forefront areas where significant progress has been made in recent years. The structure and function of ion channels have been elucidated through high-resolution x-ray structural work on the bacterial K(+) ion channel. Selection of potassium over sodium ions is achieved by taking advantage of key principles of coordination chemistry. The role of calcium ions in neuronal signal transduction is effected by several Ca(2+)-binding protein such as calmodulin, calcineurin, and synaptotagmin. Structural changes in response to calcium ion concentrations allow these proteins to function in memory formation and other neurochemical roles. Metallochaperones help to achieve metal ion homeostasis and thus prevent neurological diseases because of metal ion imbalance. Much detailed chemical information about these systems has become available recently. Zinc is another important metal ion in neuroscience. Its concentration in brain is in part controlled by metallothionein, and zinc is released in the hippocampus at glutamatergic synapses. New fluorescent sensors have become available to help track such zinc release.

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