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Keywords:

  • after-hyperpolarization;
  • apamin;
  • calcium activated potassium channels;
  • synaptic plasticity;
  • synaptic transmission

SUMMARY

  • 1
    SK channels are small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channels that are widely expressed in neurons. The traditional view of the functional role of SK channels is in mediating one component of the after-hyperpolarization that follows action potentials. Calcium influx via voltage-gated calcium channels active during action potentials opens SK channels and the resultant hyperpolarization lowers the firing frequency of action potentials in many neurons.
  • 2
    Recent advances have shown that, in addition to controlling action potential firing frequency, SK channels are also important in regulating dendritic excitability, synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity.
  • 3
    In accordance with their role in modulating synaptic plasticity, SK channels are also important in regulating several learning and memory tasks and may also play a role in a number of neurological disorders.
  • 4
    The present review discusses recent findings on the role of SK channels in central neurons.