The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 210, Issue 3, pp 161–172 | Cite as

Intracellular Monovalent Ions as Second Messengers

  • S.N. OrlovEmail author
  • P. Hamet
Topical Review


It is generally accepted that electrochemical gradients of monovalent ions across the plasma membrane, created by the coupled function of pumps, carriers and channels, are involved in the maintenance of resting and action membrane potential, cell volume adjustment, intracellular Ca2+ handling and accumulation of glucose, amino acids, nucleotides and other precursors of macromolecular synthesis. In the present review, we summarize data showing that side-by-side with these classic functions, modulation of the intracellular concentration of monovalent ions in a physiologically reasonable range is sufficient to trigger numerous cellular responses, including changes in enzyme activity, gene expression, protein synthesis, cell proliferation and death. Importantly, the engagement of monovalent ions in regulation of the above-listed cellular responses occurs at steps upstream of Ca2+ i and other key intermediates of intracellular signaling, which allows them to be considered as second messengers. With the exception of HCO 3 -sensitive soluble adenylyl cyclase, the molecular origin of sensors involved in the function of monovalent ions as second messengers remains unknown.


Sodium Potassium Proton Bicarbonate Chloride Intracellular signalling 



This work was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Kidney Foundation of Canada. The editorial help of Ovid Da Silva’ Research Support Office, CHUM, is appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de rechercheCentre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, (CHUM)-Hôtel-DieuMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Laboratory of Pathophysiology of Ion Transport Disorders, Centre de recherche CHUM - Hôtel-DieuMontrealCanada

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