1. Sodium channels mediate fast depolarization and conduct electrical impulses throughout nerve, muscle and heart. This paper reviews the links between sodium channel structure and function. 2. Sodium channels have a modular architecture, with distinct regions for the pore and the gates. The separation is far from absolute, however, with extensive interaction among the various parts of the channel. 3. At a molecular level, sodium channels are not static: they move extensively in the course of gating and ion translocation. 4. Sodium channels bind local anaesthetics and various toxins. In some cases, the relevant sites have been partially identified. 5. Sodium channels are subject to regulation at the levels of transcription, subunit interaction and post-translational modification (notably glycosylation and phosphorylation).
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