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Received April 18, 2022; Revised June 13, 2022; Accepted June 13, 2022
The maintenance of an uneven distribution of Na+ and K+ ions between the cytoplasm and extracellular medium is the basis for the functioning of any animal cell. Changes in the intracellular ratio of these cations occur in response to numerous stimuli and are important for the cell activity regulation. Numerous experimental data have shown that gene transcription in mammalian cells can be regulated by changes in the intracellular [Na+]i/[K+]i ratio. Here, we discuss possible mechanisms of such regulation in various cell types, with special attention to the [Ca2+]-independent signaling pathways that suggest the presence of an intracellular sensor of monovalent cations. As such sensor, we propose the secondary structures of nucleic acids called G-quadruplexes. They are widely represented in mammalian genomes and are often found in the promoters of genes encoding transcription factors.
KEY WORDS: sodium, potassium, regulation of transcription, G-quadruplexes, endothelium, proinflammatory response