More than two dozen types of potassium channels, with different biophysical and regulatory properties, are expressed in the kidney, influencing renal function in many important ways. Recently, a confluence of discoveries in areas from human genetics to physiology, cell biology, and biophysics has cast light on the special function of five different potassium channels in the distal nephron, encoded by the genes KCNJ1, KCNJ10, KCNJ16, KCNMA1, and KCNN3. Research aimed at understanding how these channels work in health and go awry in disease has transformed our understanding of potassium balance and provided new insights into mechanisms of renal sodium handling and the maintenance of blood pressure. This review focuses on recent advances in this rapidly evolving field.
Keywords: BK; KCa2.3; Kir4.1; Kir5.1; ROMK; SK3.