Potassium channel, voltage-dependent, beta subunit, KCNE2 (IPR005425)

Short name: K_chnl_volt-dep_bsu_KCNE2

Overlapping homologous superfamilies


Family relationships


Potassium channels are the most diverse group of the ion channel family [PMID: 1772658, PMID: 1879548]. They are important in shaping the action potential, and in neuronal excitability and plasticity [PMID: 2451788]. The potassium channel family is composed of several functionally distinct isoforms, which can be broadly separated into 2 groups [PMID: 2555158]: the practically non-inactivating 'delayed' group and the rapidly inactivating 'transient' group.

These are all highly similar proteins, with only small amino acid changes causing the diversity of the voltage-dependent gating mechanism, channel conductance and toxin binding properties. Each type of K+ channel is activated by different signals and conditions depending on their type of regulation: some open in response to depolarisation of the plasma membrane; others in response to hyperpolarisation or an increase in intracellular calcium concentration; some can be regulated by binding of a transmitter, together with intracellular kinases; while others are regulated by GTP-binding proteins or other second messengers [PMID: 2448635]. In eukaryotic cells, K+ channels are involved in neural signalling and generation of the cardiac rhythm, act as effectors in signal transduction pathways involving G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and may have a role in target cell lysis by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes [PMID: 1373731]. In prokaryotic cells, they play a role in the maintenance of ionic homeostasis [PMID: 11178249].

All K+ channels discovered so far possess a core of alpha subunits, each comprising either one or two copies of a highly conserved pore loop domain (P-domain). The P-domain contains the sequence (T/SxxTxGxG), which has been termed the K+ selectivity sequence. In families that contain one P-domain, four subunits assemble to form a selective pathway for K+ across the membrane. However, it remains unclear how the 2 P-domain subunits assemble to form a selective pore. The functional diversity of these families can arise through homo- or hetero-associations of alpha subunits or association with auxiliary cytoplasmic beta subunits. K+ channel subunits containing one pore domain can be assigned into one of two superfamilies: those that possess six transmembrane (TM) domains and those that possess only two TM domains. The six TM domain superfamily can be further subdivided into conserved gene families: the voltage-gated (Kv) channels; the KCNQ channels (originally known as KvLQT channels); the EAG-like K+ channels; and three types of calcium (Ca)-activated K+ channels (BK, IK and SK) [PMID: 11178249]. The 2TM domain family comprises inward-rectifying K+ channels. In addition, there are K+ channel alpha-subunits that possess two P-domains. These are usually highly regulated K+ selective leak channels.

Two types of beta subunit (KCNE and KCNAB) are presently known to associate with voltage-gated alpha subunits (Kv, KCNQ and eag-like). However, not all combinations of alpha and beta subunits are possible. The KCNE family of K+ channel subunits are membrane glycoproteins that possess a single transmembrane (TM) domain. They share no structural relationship with the alpha subunit proteins, which possess pore forming domains. The subunits appear to have a regulatory function, modulating the kinetics and voltage dependence of the alpha subunits of voltage-dependent K+ channels. KCNE subunits are formed from short polypeptides of ~130 amino acids, and are divided into five subfamilies: KCNE1 (MinK/IsK), KCNE2 (MiRP1), KCNE3 (MiRP2), KCNE4 (MiRP3) and KCNE1L (AMMECR2).

KCNE2 subunits associate with the eag-like HERG alpha subunits, which are the pore-forming subunits of cardiac IKr channels. Channels formed solely from HERG subunits display similar properties to native IKr channels; however, they differ in their gating and single channel conductance. Channels formed from both KCNE2 and HERG exhibit properties that are identical to those seen in native IKr channels. Three mutations in the KCNE2 gene are associated with long QT syndrome and ventricular fibrillation. These mutations result in channels that open slower and close more rapidly, the net effect being a reduced K+ current [PMID: 10219239].

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0006813 potassium ion transport

Molecular Function

GO:0005249 voltage-gated potassium channel activity

Cellular Component

GO:0016020 membrane

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.