NMDA receptors convert chemical messages into electrical signals within a neuron. The key to transmitting information is opening the receptor’s built-in ion channel, a hollow pore that allows electrically-charged ions to flow. Hiro Furokawa’s lab discovered that unlocking the receptor’s ion channel is like working a stringed puppet – rock one part of the receptor and filaments pull open the channel’s gate. Rock it a little differently, the filaments loosen, and the gate snaps shut.
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