Rhythmic potassium transport regulates the circadian clock in human red blood cells

Erin A. Henslee, Priya Crosby, Stephen J. Kitcatt, Jack S.W. Parry, Andrea Bernardini, Rula G. Abdallat, Gabriella Braun, Henry O. Fatoyinbo, Esther J. Harrison, Rachel S. Edgar, Kai F. Hoettges, Akhilesh B. Reddy, Rita I. Jabr, Malcolm Von Schantz, John S. O'Neill, Fatima H. Labeed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Circadian rhythms organize many aspects of cell biology and physiology to a daily temporal program that depends on clock gene expression cycles in most mammalian cell types. However, circadian rhythms are also observed in isolated mammalian red blood cells (RBCs), which lack nuclei, suggesting the existence of post-translational cellular clock mechanisms in these cells. Here we show using electrophysiological and pharmacological approaches that human RBCs display circadian regulation of membrane conductance and cytoplasmic conductivity that depends on the cycling of cytoplasmic K+ levels. Using pharmacological intervention and ion replacement, we show that inhibition of K+ transport abolishes RBC electrophysiological rhythms. Our results suggest that in the absence of conventional transcription cycles, RBCs maintain a circadian rhythm in membrane electrophysiology through dynamic regulation of K+ transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1978
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Rhythmic potassium transport regulates the circadian clock in human red blood cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this