Convergent evolution of alternative splices at domain boundaries of the BK channel

Annu Rev Physiol. 2009;71:19-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.010908.163124.


Alternative splicing is a widespread mechanism for generating transcript diversity in higher eukaryotic genomes. The alternative splices of the large-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channel have been the subject of a good deal of experimental functional characterization in the Arthropoda, Chordata, and Nematoda phyla. In this review, we examine a list of splices of the BK channel by manual curation of Unigene clusters mapped to mouse, human, chicken, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans genomes. We find that BK alternative splices do not appear to be conserved across phyla. Despite this lack of conservation, splices occur in both vertebrates and invertebrates at identical regions of the channel at experimentally established domain boundaries. The fact that, across phyla, unique splices occur at experimentally established domain boundaries suggests a prominent role for the convergent evolution of alternative splices that produce functional changes via changes in interdomain communication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Chickens / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels / genetics*
  • Mice


  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels