Link to bioRxiv paper:
Authors: Marzen, S., Duran, A.
Potassium voltage-gated (Kv) channels need to detect and respond to rapidly changing ionic concentrations in their environment. With an essential role in regulating electric signaling, they would be expected to be optimal sensors that evolved to predict the ionic concentrations. To explore these assumptions, we use statistical mechanics in conjunction with information theory to model how animal Kv channels respond to changes in potassium concentrations in their environment. By estimating mutual information in representative Kv channel types across a variety of environments, we find two things. First, under a wide variety of environments, there is an optimal gating current that maximizes mutual information between the sensor and the environment. Second, as Kv channels evolved, they have moved towards decreasing mutual information with the environment. This either suggests that Kv channels do not need to act as sensors of their environment or that Kv channels have other functionalities that interfere with their role as sensors of their environment.
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