I always believed to have roughly understood how voltage-gated ion channels and the creation of action potentials work: as and by single (or non-interacting groups of) membrane proteins, that behave somehow non-linearily by intrinsic means, each by its own. But suddenly I doubt.
Might it be the case that some of the non-linear dynamics of ion channels and the generation of action potentials cannot be understood when looking only at single ion channels as proteins? Or is it like Wikipedia says:
This means, that some of the non-linearities only occur when many membrane proteins (presumably in a fine-tuned mix of different types) interact?
Maybe only then some features of ion channels can be understood:
Action potentials are always of the same size, independent of the voltage (or current) that is applied/injected (which would be hard to understand for single membrane proteins).
Ion channels can exhibit many different firing patterns, which depend on intrinsic emergent mechanisms of assemblies of membrane proteins.
If this is so, one must be very careful when talking or reading about voltage-gated ion channels, because depending on context sometimes single membrane proteins are meant, and sometimes complex assemblies of non-linearily interacting proteins.