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Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels

by Greg Crowther


Gated ion channels are membrane proteins that open in response to chemical, electrical, or mechanical signals. This song focuses on voltage-gated sodium channels, which have a pivotal role in the action potentials by which information is transmitted through the nervous system. The song should be sung with prominent vowels on the "you open wide" part ("yoooouuuu ohhh-pen wiiiide") to underscore the openness of the channels.


When do the neurotransmitters storm the beach?
When do we see the ligand-gated channels get breached?
When do the PSPs sum, each to each?
And, at the axon hillock, when is threshold reached?

Then you open wide;
You respond to membrane voltage.
Then you open wide,
And in the ions come.
Then you open wide,
And the charge spreads to your neighbors.
Then they open wide,
One by one.

Other Files

MP3 (demo)

sheet music (with melody play-back)

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) illustrating it with pictures, bodily poses, and/or bodily movements. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) What is meant by the first line of the song? What are the strengths and limitations of this analogy?

(2) What is a PSP?

(3) Aside from song's title, why would you suspect that the singer is singing to a SODIUM channel?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)