The sodium-potassium pump (Na+/K+ pump) is a transmembrane ATPase. It is located in the plasma membrane of an animal cell. It is involved in maintaining the appropriate cellular concentrations of sodium and potassium ions. It does so by removing sodium ions from the inside of a cell and replaces them with potassium ions from the outside into the cell. It employs active transport of ions, which means that the pumping out of ions is against their concentration gradients and consequently utilizes energy from ATP. In this mechanism, this enzyme pumps 3 Na+ out and pumps 2 K+ into the cell for every ATP molecule that it uses.
The function of sodium-potassium pump is crucial. For instance, the nervous cells depend on this pump for transmitting nerve impulses. The pump is also involved in maintaining the cell membrane potential.
The sodium-potassium pump was discovered in 1957 by Jens Christian Skou, a Danish scientist. For this discovery, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1997.
- Na+/K+ pump
- sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase (Na+/K+-ATPase)