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Pflugers Arch. 2015 May;467(5):867-94. doi: 10.1007/s00424-015-1703-7. Epub 2015 Mar 21.

Much more than a leak: structure and function of K₂p-channels.

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Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Marburg University, 35037, Marburg, Germany.


Over the last decade, we have seen an enormous increase in the number of experimental studies on two-pore-domain potassium channels (K2P-channels). The collection of reviews and original articles compiled for this special issue of Pflügers Archiv aims to give an up-to-date summary of what is known about the physiology and pathophysiology of K2P-channels. This introductory overview briefly describes the structure of K2P-channels and their function in different organs. Its main aim is to provide some background information for the 19 reviews and original articles of this special issue of Pflügers Archiv. It is not intended to be a comprehensive review; instead, this introductory overview focuses on some unresolved questions and controversial issues, such as: Do K2P-channels display voltage-dependent gating? Do K2P-channels contribute to the generation of action potentials? What is the functional role of alternative translation initiation? Do K2P-channels have one or two or more gates? We come to the conclusion that we are just beginning to understand the extremely complex regulation of these fascinating channels, which are often inadequately described as 'leak channels'.

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