Ion Transport: Potassium Channels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Airway and alveolar epithelial cells express a variety of K + channels that are specifically localized to either the apical or basolateral membrane depending upon their physiological function. These channels play important roles in maintenance of membrane potential, control of cell volume, regulation of cell proliferation, and support of transepithelial electrolyte and nutrient transport. K + channels present in the apical membrane of alveolar epithelial cells, for example, facilitate K + secretion, thus contributing to the elevated K + concentration observed in alveolar fluid. K + channels localized to the basolateral membrane of airway epithelial cells contribute to transepithelial electrolyte and fluid transport by sustaining the electrical driving force necessary for anion efflux or cation influx and limit fluctuations in intracellular K + concentration associated with changes in Na +-K + ATPase activity. Signaling molecules that control the absorptive and secretory functions of lung epithelia have been shown to regulate specific K + channel subtypes through the mobilization of intracellular second messengers such as Ca 2+ and cAMP. In this review, the diversity of K + channel expression and the functional role of these channels in transepithelial electrolyte and fluid transport in lung epithelia are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Respiratory Medicine, Four-Volume Set
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780123708793
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006


  • CAMP-regulated K channels (KCNE, KCNQ)
  • Cl secretion
  • Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR)
  • Epithelial sodium channels (ENaC)
  • Intermediate conductance Ca -activated K channels (IK1, SK4)
  • Inwardly rectifying K channels (K )
  • K channels (K 6.1)
  • Na absorption
  • Sulfonourea receptor (SUR2B)
  • Voltage-gated K channels (K )


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