JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Nerve ion channel: 3-D composite electron micrograph of an acetylcholine receptor, a large molecule that controls the transmission of a nerve impulse. Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, is released across the junction (synapse) between adjacent nerve cells to bind to receptors on the target cell membrane. A shape change associated with bound neurotransitter/receptor results in pores (ion channels) opening for a fraction of a second. Sodium & potassium ions flood through, altering the electrical potential & firing a second nerve impulse. The ion channel here appears closed.
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