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J Clin Immunol. 2001 Jul;21(4):235-52.

Molecular properties and physiological roles of ion channels in the immune system.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine 92697, USA.


The discovery of a diverse and unique set of ion channels in T lymphocytes has led to a rapidly growing body of knowledge about their functional roles in the immune system. Here we review the biophysical and molecular characterization of K+, Ca2+, and Cl- channels in T lymphocytes. Potent and specific blockers, especially of K+ channels, have provided molecular tools to elucidate the involvement of voltage- and calcium-activated potassium channels in T-cell activation and cell-volume regulation. Their unique and differential expression makes lymphocyte K+ channels excellent pharmaceutical targets for modulating immune system function. This review surveys recent progress at the biophysical, molecular, and functional roles of the ion channels found in T lymphocytes.

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