Voltage-gated K+ channels are important determinants of neuronal membrane excitability. Moreover, differences in K+ channel expression patterns and densities contribute to the variations in action potential waveforms and repetitive firing patterns evident in different neuronal cell types (Maletic-Savatic et al., 1995; Pongs, 1999; Blaine and Ribera, 1998; Burger and Ribera, 1996). KCNQ1 (Kv7.1), together with its KCNE β subunits, plays a pivotal role both in the repolarization of cardiac tissue and in water and salt transport across epithelial membranes
Defects in KCNQ1 are the cause of long QT syndrome type 1 and short QT syndrome type 2. They can result in syncope and sudden death.
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