Molecular physiology of voltage-gated ion channels

Voltage-gated ion channels are key players in all biological systems where they generate and modulate for instance the nervous impulse and pacemaker activity in the heart and the brain.

We study the voltage-sensing mechanism of several ion channels by expressing cloned channels in Xenopus oocytes and measuring ion and gating currents with several electrophysiological methods such as the two-electrode voltage clamp and patch-clamp techniques. Computer simulations are used to understand the molecular effects at the cellular level.

Specifically we are studying how different small-molecule compounds can affect ion channel activity. Instead of blocking the ion conducting pore to modify neuronal and cardiac activity we have proposed that medical drugs can target the voltage sensor. We have shown that negatively charged compounds like polyunsaturated fatty acids bind to the membrane close to the voltage sensor and thereby electrostatically affect the voltage-sensing mechanism. We have called this the lipoelectric mechanism. We are currently studying several families with lipoelectric properties. Hopefully, these compounds can be developed into medical drugs against cardiac arrhythmia, epilepsy and pain.

Molecular movements that make us think

Principal Investigator



Three men and a woman outside Campus US.

SciLifeLab establishes a new research site at LiU

Technology, expertise, methods and initiatives can be coordinated more within and between higher education institutions. Linköping University is now one of four new sites in the Swedish research infrastructure SciLifeLab.

Older man with chest pain during running.

SEK 17 million for cardiopulmonary research at LiU

Nine researchers at LiU have received research funding from the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation. The funded research will include work on the immune system in heart disease, the development of new drugs, and the effects of remote yoga on heart failure.

Fredrik Elinder.

Prize winner: “I realise how debilitating a disease epilepsy is”

Fredrik Elinder, professor in molecular neurobiology, has received the Onkel Adam Award for 2021 for his outstanding research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Linköping University.