Mitochondrial potassium channels play an important role in cytoprotection. Potassium channels in the inner mitochondrial membrane are modulated by inhibitors and activators (potassium channel openers) previously described for plasma membrane potassium channels. The majority of mitochondrial potassium channel modulators exhibit a broad spectrum of off-target effects. These include uncoupling properties, inhibition of the respiratory chain and effects on cellular calcium homeostasis. Therefore, the rational application of channel inhibitors or activators is crucial to understanding the cellular consequences of mitochondrial channel inhibition or activation. Moreover, understanding their side-effects should facilitate the design of a specific mitochondrial channel opener with cytoprotective properties. In this review, we discuss the complex interactions of potassium channel inhibitors and activators with cellular structures.
Copyright 2010 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.