About 10 distinct potassium channels in the heart are involved in shaping the action potential. Some of the K(+) channels are primarily responsible for early repolarization, whereas others drive late repolarization and still others are open throughout the cardiac cycle. Three main K(+) channels drive the late repolarization of the ventricle with some redundancy, and in atria this repolarization reserve is supplemented by the fairly atrial-specific KV1.5, Kir3, KCa, and K2P channels. The role of the latter two subtypes in atria is currently being clarified, and several findings indicate that they could constitute targets for new pharmacological treatment of atrial fibrillation. The interplay between the different K(+) channel subtypes in both atria and ventricle is dynamic, and a significant up- and downregulation occurs in disease states such as atrial fibrillation or heart failure. The underlying posttranscriptional and posttranslational remodeling of the individual K(+) channels changes their activity and significance relative to each other, and they must be viewed together to understand their role in keeping a stable heart rhythm, also under menacing conditions like attacks of reentry arrhythmia.
Physiological Reviews, 2014, Vol 94, Issue 2, p. 609-53