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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Aug;35(8):1182-97.

The Gárdos channel: a review of the Ca2+-activated K+ channel in human erythrocytes.

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School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences G08, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Dec;35(12):1682.


Ca(2+)-dependent K(+) efflux from human erythrocytes was first described in the 1950s. Subsequent studies revealed that a K(+)-specific membrane protein (the Gárdos channel) was responsible for this phenomenon (the Gárdos effect). In recent years several types of Ca-activated K(+) channel have been identified and studied in a wide range of cells, with the erythrocyte Gárdos channel serving as both a model for a broader physiological perspective, and an intriguing component of erythrocyte function. The existence of this channel has raised a number of questions. For example, what is its role in the establishment and maintenance of ionic distribution across the red cell membrane? What role might it play in erythrocyte development? To what extent is it active in circulating erythrocytes? What are the cell-physiological implications of its dysfunction?This review summarises current knowledge of this membrane protein with respect to its function and structure, its physiological roles (some putative) and its contribution to various disease states, and it provides an introduction to adaptable NMR methods, which is our own area of technical expertise, for such ion transport analysis.

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