Ca(2+)-activated K+ channels: molecular determinants and function of the SK family

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2004 Oct;5(10):758-70. doi: 10.1038/nrn1516.


Ca(2+)-activated K(+) (K(Ca)) channels of small (SK) and intermediate (IK) conductance are present in a wide range of excitable and non-excitable cells. On activation by low concentrations of Ca(2+), they open, which results in hyperpolarization of the membrane potential and changes in cellular excitability. K(Ca)-channel activation also counteracts further increases in intracellular Ca(2+), thereby regulating the concentration of this ubiquitous intracellular messenger in space and time. K(Ca) channels have various functions, including the regulation of neuronal firing properties, blood flow and cell proliferation. The cloning of SK and IK channels has prompted investigations into their gating, pharmacology and organization into calcium-signalling domains, and has provided a framework that can be used to correlate molecularly identified K(Ca) channels with their native currents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apamin / pharmacology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / classification
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / genetics*
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / physiology*


  • Calmodulin
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated
  • Apamin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium