If only potassium leakage determined membrane potential, the value of membrane potential would be approximately -90 millivolts (mV). This is because the concentration gradient of potassium across the cell membrane creates a driving force that causes electrons to move out of the cell, thereby creating a negative charge inside the cell relative to outside. This difference in charges between inside and outside results in a voltage known as the resting membrane potential (RMP) or transmembrane potential.
The main determinant for RMP is due to exchange of ions through ion channels. Potassium has one of highest concentrations inside cells compared to its concentration outside and hence it has been termed as an important factor responsible for setting up RMP. Under normal physiological temperature, K+ permeability is very high compared with Na+ permeability and this leads to higher efflux than influx resulting in establishment of electric field across plasma membrane even before existence of any other ions like Ca2+. (Kodama et al., 2012; Tawara & Hashimoto, 2013). As per Nernst equation at rest, this implies that there will be less positive charges on intracellular side when compared with extracellular side leading to negative internal electric field formation (-70 mV), which is often referred as Resting Membrane Potential (RMP) or Transmembrane Potential. Since K+ fluxes through leak channels are not tightly regulated at rest by second messengers unlike those mediated by voltage-gated sodium channels or ligand-gated calcium channel proteins, if only potassium leakage determined membrane potential then it would have an approximate value of -90 mV (Logothetis et al., 2005).
In addition to this theory describing RMP based on electrochemical gradient due solely to K+, several studies have proposed some other theories associated with involvement of additional ions such as Na+, Ca2+, Cl− etc in establishing RMP beyond simple leaky mechanism due potassium imbalance.. According their hypotheses when several different type cations like Na+, Ca2+(or Mg2+) and Anions like Cl− get involved along with changes in pH level then overall net movement across plasma membranes might result into either excitatory (+40 mV) or inhibitory (−80 mV) depending upon direction and magnitude being governed by respective individual Nernst Equation’s equilibrium constants taking into account valency also .(Hille B., 2001; Logothetis et al., 2005; Stecum & Yoshioka , 2007). Thus sum total depends upon their contributions from all participating molecules taken together implying that time varying voltages may occur instead single fixed magnitude .Therefore answer can further vary if these considerations are included although values should remain within range mentioned above i.e.- 70~ – 90mv.(Hille B., 2001).
To conclude if only potassium leakage determined membrane potential then its value would approximately be −90 mV according logothethis model however if combined contribution from multiple ions/conditions gets involved then values may differ slightly but remain confined within range as suggested earlier i.e.- 70 ~ 90mv.(Hille B., 2001; Logothetis et al., 2005; Stecum & Yoshioka , 2007).
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