The BK channel: a vital link between cellular calcium and electrical signaling

Protein Cell. 2012 Dec;3(12):883-92. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2076-8. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Large-conductance Ca²⁺-activated K⁺ channels (BK channels) constitute an key physiological link between cellular Ca²⁺ signaling and electrical signaling at the plasma membrane. Thus these channels are critical to the control of action potential firing and neurotransmitter release in several types of neurons, as well as the dynamic control of smooth muscle tone in resistance arteries, airway, and bladder. Recent advances in our understanding of K⁺ channel structure and function have led to new insight toward the molecular mechanisms of opening and closing (gating) of these channels. Here we will focus on mechanisms of BK channel gating by Ca²⁺, transmembrane voltage, and auxiliary subunit proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism


  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels
  • Protein Subunits