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Ionic Conductance

John Anderson in Anderson Lab anderson at CSHL.ORG
Sun Nov 13 06:26:01 EST 1994

>   I believe it was Peter Mitchell who worked out the mechanism of
>   oxidative phosphorylation. It involves a proton conductance through a
>   membrane, which overcomes the problems with the charge on the proton.
>   The reason I bring this up is that there is a problem with neural
>   spines--the spine neck is quite narrow, and does not allow ionic flow
>   between the spine and the dendrite. 
>   However, my taking a course from Harold Morowitz on metabolism begins to
>   provide some insight here. He keeps emphasizing the importance of static
>   cell structure to how the cell operates. (He's taken metazoans down
>   nearly to absolute zero and then revived them--which you could not do if
>   persistent dynamics were necessary to life.) The problem with the spine
>   neck would go away if there were some sort of biological structure that
>   supported the necessary ion flow. I.e., ion wires through the neck...
>   Has anyone looked to see if microtubules supported ionic conductance?
>   That would also start to provide some insight into their role in the
>   protistan neuroskeleton. Based on structure, they might even function as
>   some sort of coaxial cable.
>   --
>   Harry Erwin
>   Internet: herwin at gmu.edu 

Microtubules play an important role in Roger Penrose's new book
SHADOWS OF THE MIND (which I've not read), as a possible substrate for
"quantum consciousness", I think.  I believe the original idea came
from Stuart Hameroff.  The property of microtubules that these guys
like is that the tubulin monomers can have one of two conformations,
determined by the position of an particular electron.  I wonder if
this electron, or a surrogate, could be transferred along the length
of the microtubule as part of a wave of conformational change, thus
effectively producing a current?

John E. Anderson, Ph.D.                             904-448-6286 (phone)
9439 San Jose Boulevard #226                   anderson at cshl.org (email)
Jacksonville, Florida 32257                  jander at unf6.unf.edu (email)

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