Potassium is the most abundant ion to face both plasma and organelle membranes. Extensive research over the past seven decades has characterized how K(+) permeates the plasma membrane to control fundamental processes such as secretion, neuronal communication, and heartbeat. However, how K(+) permeates organelles such as lysosomes and endosomes is unknown. Here, we directly recorded organelle K(+) conductance and discovered a major K(+)-selective channel KEL on endosomes and lysosomes. KEL is formed by TMEM175, a protein with unknown function. Unlike any of the ∼80 plasma membrane K(+) channels, TMEM175 has two repeats of 6-transmembrane-spanning segments and has no GYG K(+) channel sequence signature-containing, pore-forming P loop. Lysosomes lacking TMEM175 exhibit no K(+) conductance, have a markedly depolarized ΔΨ and little sensitivity to changes in [K(+)], and have compromised luminal pH stability and abnormal fusion with autophagosomes during autophagy. Thus, TMEM175 comprises a K(+) channel that underlies the molecular mechanism of lysosomal K(+) permeability.
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