Voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels are key determinants of membrane excitability in the nervous and cardiovascular systems, functioning to control resting membrane potentials, shape action potential waveforms and influence the responses to neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Consistent with this functional diversity, multiple types of Kv currents, with distinct biophysical properties and cellular/subcellular distributions, have been identified. Rapidly activating and inactivating Kv currents, typically referred to as IA (A-type) in neurons, for example, regulate repetitive firing rates, action potential back-propagation (into dendrites) and modulate synaptic responses. Currents with similar properties, referred to as Ito,f (fast transient outward), expressed in cardiomyocytes, control the early phase of myocardial action potential repolarization. A number of studies have demonstrated critical roles for pore-forming (α) subunits of the Kv4 subfamily in the generation of native neuronal IA and cardiac Ito,f channels. Studies in heterologous cells have also suggested important roles for a number of Kv channel accessory and regulatory proteins in the generation of functional IA and Ito,f channels. Quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis is increasingly recognized as a rapid and, importantly, unbiased, approach to identify the components of native macromolecular protein complexes. The recent application of proteomic approaches to identify the components of native neuronal (and cardiac) Kv4 channel complexes has revealed even greater complexity than anticipated. The continued emphasis on development of improved biochemical and analytical proteomic methods seems certain to accelerate progress and to provide important new insights into the molecular determinants of native ion channel protein complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Kv accessory subunits
  • Kv4 α subunits
  • Native ion channel protein complexes
  • Post-translational modifications
  • Protein identification
  • Proteomics
  • Quantitative mass spectrometry


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