Evolution of voltage-gated ion channels at the emergence of Metazoa

Yehu Moran, Maya Gur Barzilai, Benjamin J. Liebeskind, Harold H. Zakon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Voltage-gated ion channels are large transmembrane proteins that enable the passage of ions through their pore across the cell membrane. These channels belong to one superfamily and carry pivotal roles such as the propagation of neuronal and muscular action potentials and the promotion of neurotransmitter secretion in synapses. In this review, we describe in detail the current state of knowledge regarding the evolution of these channels with a special emphasis on the metazoan lineage. We highlight the contribution of the genomic revolution to the understanding of ion channel evolution and for revealing that these channels appeared long before the appearance of the first animal. We also explain how the elucidation of channel selectivity properties and function in non-bilaterian animals such as cnidarians (sea anemones, corals, jellyfish and hydroids) can contribute to the study of channel evolution. Finally, we point to open questions and future directions in this field of research.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)515-525
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2015


  • Animal evolution
  • Ion selectivity
  • Voltage-gated ion channels

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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