Ion channels on the mitochondrial inner membrane influence cell function in specific ways that can be detrimental or beneficial to cell survival. At least one type of potassium (K+) channel, the mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate-sensitive K+ channel (mitoKATP) is an important effector of protection against necrotic and apoptotic cell injury after ischemia. Here another channel with properties similar to the surface membrane calcium-activated K+ channel was found on the mitochondrial inner membrane (mitoKCa) of guinea pig ventricular cells. MitoKCa significantly contributed to mitochondrial K+ uptake of the myocyte, and an opener of mitoKCa protected hearts against infarction.
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