Molecular properties and physiological roles of ion channels in the immune system

M. D. Cahalan, Heike Wulff, K. G. Chandy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


The discovery of a diverse and unique set of ion channels in T lymphocytes has led to a rapidly growing body of knowledge about their functional roles in the immune system. Here we review the biophysical and molecular characterization of K+, Ca2+, and Cl- channels in T lymphocytes. Potent and specific blockers, especially of K+ channels, have provided molecular tools to elucidate the involvement of voltage- and calcium-activated potassium channels in T-cell activation and cell-volume regulation. Their unique and differential expression makes lymphocyte K+ channels excellent pharmaceutical targets for modulating immune system function. This review surveys recent progress at the biophysical, molecular, and functional roles of the ion channels found in T lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-252
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • (patch-clamp)
  • Calcium channel
  • Immunosuppression
  • Potassium channel
  • T-cell activation
  • Toxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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