BK channels in the kidney: Role in K+ secretion and localization of molecular components

Jennifer L. Pluznick, Steven C. Sansom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Although it is generally accepted that ROMK is the K+ secretory channel in the mammalian distal nephron, recent in vitro and in vivo studies have provided evidence that large-conductance Ca2+-activated K + channels (BK, or maxi K) also secrete K+ in renal tubules. This review assesses the current evidence relating BK channels with K+ secretion. We shall consider the component proteins of the BK channel, their localization with respect to segment and cell type, and the electrophysiological forces involved in K+ secretion. Although the majority of studies have focused on a role for BK channels in flow-mediated K+ secretion, this review also considers a potential role for BK channels in high-K diet-induced K+ secretion. The division of workload between ROMK and BK is discussed as a mechanism for ensuring a constant plasma K+ concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F517-F529
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • BK-β1
  • Connecting tubule
  • Distal nephron
  • Maxi K
  • Potassium secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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