What do we not know about mitochondrial potassium channels?
In this review, we summarize our knowledge about mitochondrial potassium channels, with a special focus on unanswered questions in this field. The following potassium channels have been well described in the inner mitochondrial membrane: ATP-regulated potassium channel, Ca(2+)-activated potassium channel, the voltage-gated Kv1.3 potassium channel, and the two-pore domain TASK-3 potassium channel. The primary functional roles of these channels include regulation of mitochondrial respiration and the alteration of membrane potential. Additionally, they modulate the mitochondrial matrix volume and the synthesis of reactive oxygen species by mitochondria. Mitochondrial potassium channels are believed to contribute to cytoprotection and cell death. In this paper, we discuss fundamental issues concerning mitochondrial potassium channels: their molecular identity, channel pharmacology and functional properties. Attention will be given to the current problems present in our understanding of the nature of mitochondrial potassium channels. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'EBEC 2016: 19th European Bioenergetics Conference, Riva del Garda, Italy, July 2-6, 2016', edited by Prof. Paolo Bernardi.