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Potassium channels form the largest family of ion channels with more than 80 members involved in cell excitability and signalling. Most of them exist as homomeric channels, whereas specific conditions are required to obtain heteromeric channels. It is well established that heteromerization of voltage-gated and inward rectifier potassium channels affects their function, increasing the diversity of the native potassium currents. For potassium channels with two pore domains (K2P ), homomerization has long been considered the rule, their polymodal regulation by a wide diversity of physical and chemical stimuli being responsible for the adaptation of the leak potassium currents to cellular needs. This view has recently evolved with the accumulation of evidence of heteromerization between different K2P subunits. Several functional intragroup and intergroup heteromers have recently been identified, which contribute to the functional heterogeneity of this family. K2P heteromerization is involved in the modulation of channel expression and trafficking, promoting functional and signalling diversity. As illustrated in the Abstract Figure, heteromerization of TREK1 and TRAAK provides the cell with more possibilities of regulation. It is becoming increasingly evident that K2P heteromers contribute to important physiological functions including neuronal and cardiac excitability. Since heteromerization also affects the pharmacology of K2P channels, this understanding helps to establish K2P heteromers as new therapeutic targets for physiopathological conditions. © 2020 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2020 The Physiological Society.


Lamyaa Khoubza, Franck C Chatelain, Sylvain Feliciangeli, Florian Lesage, Delphine Bichet. Physiological roles of heteromerization: focus on the two-pore domain potassium channels. The Journal of physiology. 2021 Feb;599(4):1041-1055

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PMID: 33347640

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