Na+/K+ ATPase pump

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The Na+/K+ ATPase pump is a pump found in the membrane of animal cell which uses the hydrolysis of ATP to pump 3Na+ out of the cell and 2K+ into the cell. It is a primary active transport and belongs to the family of P-type ATPases. It regulates the osmolarity of the cytosol by controlling the solute concentration inside the cell[1].The main function of the N+/K+ ATPase pump is to maintain resting potential so that the cells will be keeping in a state of a low concentration of sodium ions and high levels of potassium ions within the cell (intracellular).

The sodium-potassium pump is an antiporter transport protein[2]. This pump is responsible for the usage of almost 30% of the body's ATP, this is due to 1 molecule of ATP being hydrolysed as three molecules of Na+ are pumped out of the cell and two molecules of K+ are pumped into the cell[3]. The sodium-potassium pump is a very important protein in our cell membranes. The pump can be used to generate ATP when supplies are low by working in the opposite way[4]. The pump is also used to control the osmolarity of the cell, by pumping the Na+ out that have diffused into the cell down their high electrochemical gradient the cell can be kept at osmotic equilibrium[5]. The pump plays a large role in nerve cells and initiating action potentials. Action potentials could not occur without these cells. They initiate the first part of the depolarisation before the voltage-gated channels come into play. The sodium-potassium pumps also recover the axon to its resting state of -60mV after an action potential has passed.


  1. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P(2008). Molecular Biology of the Cell. Garland Science. Fifth Edition
  2. Alberts et al. 2008, pg 661
  3. Alberts et al. 2008, pg 661
  4. Alberts et al. 2008, pg 662
  5. Alberts et al. 2008 pg 663
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