Presynaptic K+ channels: electrifying regulators of synaptic terminal excitability

Trends Neurosci. 2004 Apr;27(4):210-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2004.02.012.


Potassium channels are crucial regulators of neuronal excitability, setting resting membrane potentials and firing thresholds, repolarizing action potentials and limiting excitability. Although most of our understanding of K+ channels is based on somatic recordings, there is good evidence that these channels are present in synaptic terminals. In recent years the improved access to presynaptic compartments afforded by direct recording techniques has indicated diverse roles for native K+ channels, from suppression of aberrant firing to action potential repolarization and activity-dependent modulation of synaptic activity. This article reviews the growing evidence for multiple roles and discrete localization of distinct K+ channels at presynaptic terminals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels / classification
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*


  • Potassium Channels