Markov modeling of ion channels: Implications for understanding disease

Angelika Lampert, Alon Korngreen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Ion channels are the bridge between the biochemical and electrical domains of our life. These membrane crossing proteins use the electric energy stored in transmembrane ion gradients, which are produced by biochemical activity to generate ionic currents. Each ion channel can be imagined as a small power plant similar to a hydroelectric power station, in which potential energy is converted into electric current. This current drives basically all physiological mechanisms of our body. It is clear that a functional blueprint of these amazing cellular power plants is essential for understanding the principle of all aspects of physiology, particularly neurophysiology. The golden path toward this blueprint starts with the biophysical investigation of ion channel activity and continues through detailed numerical modeling of these channels that will eventually lead to a full system-level description of cellular and organ physiology. Here, we discuss the first two stages of this process focusing on voltage-gated channels, particularly the voltage-gated sodium channel which is neurologically and pathologically important. We first detail the correlations between the known structure of the channel and its activity and describe some pathologies. We then provide a hands-on description of Markov modeling for voltage-gated channels. These two sections of the chapter highlight the dichotomy between the vast amounts of electrophysiological data available on voltage-gated channels and the relatively meager number of physiologically relevant models for these channels.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Neuroscience
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780123978974
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
ISSN (Print)1877-1173

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a joint grant from the German-Israeli Foundation to A. K. and A. L. (#1091-27.1/2010).


  • Action potential
  • Ion channel
  • Kinetic model
  • Markov chain
  • Model
  • Optimisation
  • Pain
  • Sodium channel
  • Voltage clamp
  • Voltage gated


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