Potassium channels participate in many biological functions, from ion homeostasis to generation and modulation of the electrical membrane potential. They are involved in a large variety of diseases. In the human genome, 15 genes code for K(+) channels with two pore domains (K2P ). These channels form dimers of pore-forming subunits that produce background conductances finely regulated by a range of natural and chemical effectors, including signalling lipids, temperature, pressure, pH, antidepressants and volatile anaesthetics. Since the cloning of TWIK1, the prototypical member of this family, a lot of work has been carried out on their structure and biology. These studies are still in progress, but data gathered so far show that K2P channels are central players in many processes, including ion homeostasis, hormone secretion, cell development and excitability. A growing number of studies underline their implication in physiopathological mechanisms, such as vascular and pulmonary hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, nociception, neuroprotection and depression. This review gives a synthetic view of the most noticeable features of these channels.
© 2014 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2014 The Physiological Society.