Regulation of renal potassium secretion: molecular mechanisms

Semin Nephrol. 2013 May;33(3):215-28. doi: 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2013.04.002.


A new understanding of renal potassium balance has emerged as the molecular underpinnings of potassium secretion have become illuminated, highlighting the key roles of apical potassium channels, renal outer medullary potassium channel (ROMK) and Big Potassium (BK), in the aldosterone-sensitive distal nephron and collecting duct. These channels act as the final-regulated components of the renal potassium secretory machinery. Their activity, number, and driving forces are precisely modulated to ensure potassium excretion matches dietary potassium intake. Recent identification of the underlying regulatory mechanisms at the molecular level provides a new appreciation of the physiology and reveals a molecular insight to explain the paradoxic actions of aldosterone on potassium secretion. Here, we review the current state of knowledge in the field.

Keywords: ARH; BK; Golgi; ROMK; SGK-1; Src kinase; WNK kinase; aldosterone; endocytosis; endoplasmic reticulum; hyperkalemia; hypokalemia; kaliuresis; kidney; potassium channel; pseudohypoaldosteronism type II; thiazide; trafficking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aldosterone / physiology
  • Angiotensin II / physiology
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Nephrons / metabolism*
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • src-Family Kinases


  • Large-Conductance Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Angiotensin II
  • Aldosterone
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Potassium