SK channels in excitability, pacemaking and synaptic integration

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Jun;15(3):305-11. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2005.05.001.


Small conductance calcium-activated potassium channels link elevations of intracellular calcium ions to membrane potential, exerting a hyperpolarizing influence when activated. The consequences of SK channel activity have been revealed by the specific blocker apamin, a peptide toxin from honeybee venom. Recent studies have revealed unexpected roles for SK channels in fine-tuning intrinsic cell firing properties and in responsiveness to synaptic input. They have also identified specific roles for different SK channel subtypes. A host of Ca2+ sources, including distinct subtypes of voltage-dependent calcium channels, intracellular Ca2+ stores and Ca2+-permeable ionotropic neurotransmitter receptors, activate SK channels. The macromolecular complex in which the Ca2+ source, SK channels and various modulators are assembled determines the kinetics and consequences of SK channel activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / metabolism*
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated
  • Calcium