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Functional and developmental expression of a zebrafish Kir1.1 (ROMK) potassium channel homologue Kcnj1.

Leila Abbas, Saeed Hajihashemi, Lucy F Stead, Gordon J Cooper, Tracy L Ware, Tim S Munsey, Tanya T Whitfield, Stanley J White

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 2011 Mar 15 , 589, 1489-503

Non-technical summary  Due to the conservation of developmental pathways and genetic material over the course of evolution, non-mammalian 'model organisms' such as the zebrafish embryo are emerging as valuable tools to explore causes and potential treatments for human diseases. Ion channels are proteins that form pores and help to establish and control electrical gradients by allowing the flow of ions across biological membranes. A diverse range of key physiological mechanisms in every organ in the body depends on the activity of ion channels. In this paper, we show that a potassium-selective channel that underlies salt reabsorption and potassium excretion in the human kidney is also expressed in zebrafish in cells that are important regulators of salt balance. Disruption of the channel's expression in zebrafish leads to effects on the activity of the heart, consistent with a role for this channel in the control of potassium balance in the embryo.