Stretch-activated BK channel and heart function

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The heart is an organ that is exposed to extreme dynamic mechanical stimuli. From birth till death, the heart indefinitely repeats periodic contraction and dilation, i.e., shortening and elongation of cardiomyocytes. Mechanical stretch elicits a change in heart rate and may cause arrhythmia if it is excessive. Thus, mechanosensitivity is crucial to heart function. The molecule that is substantially involved in mechanosensitivity is a stretch-activated ion channel. Among several ion channels believed to be activated by stretch in the heart, the stretch-activated KCa (SAKCA) channel, a member of the group of large conductance (Big Potassium, BK) channels, shows a mechanosensitive (MS) response to membrane stretch. As BK channels respond to voltage and intracellular calcium concentration with large conductance, they are considered to be involved in repolarization after depolarization. Some BK channels are known to be activated by stretch and are expressed in a number of cells, including human osteoblasts and guinea pig intestinal neurons. The SAKCA channel was found to be sensitive to stretch in the chick heart. Given that the cardiomyocyte is unremittingly exposed to contraction and dilation and that it generates action potential and its contractility is modulated by intracellular calcium concentration, the SAKCA channel, which is dependent voltage and calcium, may be involved in action potential generation. It was recently reported that a BK channel is involved in the modulation of heart rate in the mouse. Further studies regarding the role of MS BK channels, including SAKCA, in the modulation of heart rate and contractility are expected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalProgress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • BK channel
  • Heart
  • Mechanosensitivity
  • Slo
  • Stretch-activated channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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