The Kv3.1b potassium channel is a voltage-gated channel protein which belongs to the delayed rectifier class and to the Shaw potassium channel subfamily. Potassium channels are mainly found in plasma membranes but are not generally distributed over the cell surface. Potassium channels catalyze the rapid permeation of potassium ions while rejecting biologically abundant potential competitors such as sodium, calcium and magnesium. Ion selectivity and high through put rate of potassium channels is accomplished by precise co-ordination of dehydrated potassium by the protein and multiple ion occupancy within the permeation pathway. All potassium channels carry out the formation of a transmembrane leak specific for potassium ions. Since cells almost universally maintain cytoplasmic potassium concentrations higher than those extracellularly, the opening of a potassium channel implies a negative ongoing change in electrical voltage across the cell membrane. This may result in termination of the action potential of electrically excitable cells including nerve, muscle and pancreatic beta cells. In nonÐexcitable cells, potassium channels play important roles in the cellular potassium recycling required for electrolyte balance effected by the renal epithelium.
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