Distribution analysis of human two pore domain potassium channels in tissues of the central nervous system and periphery

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2001 Jan 31;86(1-2):101-14. doi: 10.1016/s0169-328x(00)00263-1.


Potassium channels are amongst the most heterogeneous class of ion channels known and are responsible for mediating a diverse range of biological functions. The most recently described family of K+ channels, the 'two pore-domain family', contain four membrane spanning domains and two pore-forming domains, suggesting that two channel subunits associate to form a functional K+ pore. Several sub-families of the two pore domain potassium channel family have been described, including the weakly inward rectifying K+ channel (TWIK), the acid-sensitive K+ channel (TASK), the TWIK-related K+ channel (TREK) and the TWIK-related arachidonic acid stimulated K+ channel (TRAAK). However, comparison of the mRNA expression of these channels has been difficult due to the differences in methods used and the species studied. In the present study, we used a single technique, TaqMan semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), to investigate the mRNA distribution of all currently known two pore potassium channels in human central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral tissues. TWIK-1 and the TWIK-1-like channel KCNK7 were predominantly expressed in the CNS, in contrast to TWIK-2 which was preferentially expressed in peripheral tissues such as pancreas, stomach, spleen and uterus. TASK-1 was expressed in the CNS and some peripheral tissues, whereas TASK-2 was exclusively expressed in the periphery except for mRNA expression observed in dorsal root ganglion and spinal cord. In addition, mRNA expression of the recently identified TASK-3, was almost completely exclusive to cerebellum with little or no mRNA detected in any other tissues. TREK-1 and TRAAK mRNA expression was predominantly CNS specific in contrast to the closely related TREK-2, which was expressed in both CNS and peripheral tissues. Studying the mRNA expression profiles of known two pore domain K+ channels will aid in the understanding of the biological roles of these channels. Furthermore, identification of common areas of expression may help identify which channels, if any, associate to form heteromeric K+ channel complexes.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / chemistry
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / chemistry
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry*
  • Potassium Channels / genetics*
  • Potassium Channels, Tandem Pore Domain*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • KCNK1 protein, human
  • KCNK10 protein, human
  • KCNK5 protein, human
  • KCNK6 protein, human
  • KCNK9 protein, human
  • Kcnk1 protein, rat
  • Kcnk10 protein, rat
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Tandem Pore Domain
  • RNA, Messenger
  • potassium channel protein TREK-1
  • potassium channel subfamily K member 3