Potassium channels (KChs) are the most diverse ion channels, in part due to extensive combinatorial assembly of a large number of principal and auxiliary subunits into an assortment of KCh complexes. Their structural and functional diversity allows KChs to play diverse roles in neuronal function. Localization of KChs within specialized neuronal compartments defines their physiological role and also fundamentally impacts their activity, due to localized exposure to diverse cellular determinants of channel function. Recent studies in mammalian brain reveal an exquisite refinement of KCh subcellular localization. This includes axonal KChs at the initial segment, and near/within nodes of Ranvier and presynaptic terminals, dendritic KChs found at sites reflecting specific synaptic input, and KChs defining novel neuronal compartments. Painting the remarkable diversity of KChs onto the complex architecture of mammalian neurons creates an elegant picture of electrical signal processing underlying the sophisticated function of individual neuronal compartments, and ultimately neurotransmission and behavior.
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