K+ channels enable potassium to flow across the membrane with great selectivity. There are four K+ channel families: voltage-gated K (Kv), calcium-activated (KCa), inwardly rectifying K (Kir), and two-pore domain potassium (K2P) channels. All four K+ channels are formed by subunits assembling into a classic tetrameric (4x1P = 4P for the Kv, KCa, and Kir channels) or tetramer-like (2x2P = 4P for the K2P channels) architecture. These subunits can either be the same (homomers) or different (heteromers), conferring great diversity to these channels. They share a highly conserved selectivity filter within the pore but show different gating mechanisms adapted for their function. K+ channels play essential roles in controlling neuronal excitability by shaping action potentials, influencing the resting membrane potential, and responding to diverse physicochemical stimuli, such as a voltage change (Kv), intracellular calcium oscillations (KCa), cellular mediators (Kir), or temperature (K2P).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages49
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)0171-2004
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0325


  • Calcium-activated
  • Conductivity
  • Gating
  • Inwardly rectifying K
  • Ion channel
  • Potassium channel
  • Selectivity
  • Two-pore domain potassium
  • Voltage-gated K


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of K+ Channel Families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this