Molecular background of leak K+ currents: two-pore domain potassium channels

Physiol Rev. 2010 Apr;90(2):559-605. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00029.2009.


Two-pore domain K(+) (K(2P)) channels give rise to leak (also called background) K(+) currents. The well-known role of background K(+) currents is to stabilize the negative resting membrane potential and counterbalance depolarization. However, it has become apparent in the past decade (during the detailed examination of the cloned and corresponding native K(2P) channel types) that this primary hyperpolarizing action is not performed passively. The K(2P) channels are regulated by a wide variety of voltage-independent factors. Basic physicochemical parameters (e.g., pH, temperature, membrane stretch) and also several intracellular signaling pathways substantially and specifically modulate the different members of the six K(2P) channel subfamilies (TWIK, TREK, TASK, TALK, THIK, and TRESK). The deep implication in diverse physiological processes, the circumscribed expression pattern of the different channels, and the interesting pharmacological profile brought the K(2P) channel family into the spotlight. In this review, we focus on the physiological roles of K(2P) channels in the most extensively investigated cell types, with special emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of channel regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Multigene Family
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism*


  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Potassium