Skip Navigation
Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions About   Site Map   Contact Us
Home A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®
Printer-friendly version


Reviewed June 2013

What is the official name of the KCNH2 gene?

The official name of this gene is “potassium channel, voltage gated eag related subfamily H, member 2.”

KCNH2 is the gene's official symbol. The KCNH2 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the KCNH2 gene?

The KCNH2 gene belongs to a large family of genes that provide instructions for making potassium channels. These channels, which transport positively charged atoms (ions) of potassium out of cells, play key roles in a cell's ability to generate and transmit electrical signals.

The specific function of a potassium channel depends on its protein components and its location in the body. Channels made with the KCNH2 protein (also known as hERG1) are active in heart (cardiac) muscle. They are involved in recharging the cardiac muscle after each heartbeat to maintain a regular rhythm. The KCNH2 protein is also produced in nerve cells and certain immune cells (microglia) in the central nervous system.

The proteins produced from the KCNH2 gene and another gene, KCNE2, interact to form a functional potassium channel. Four alpha subunits, each produced from the KCNH2 gene, form the structure of each channel. One beta subunit, produced from the KCNE2 gene, attaches (binds) to the channel and regulates its activity.

Does the KCNH2 gene share characteristics with other genes?

The KCNH2 gene belongs to a family of genes called KCN (potassium channels).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.

How are changes in the KCNH2 gene related to health conditions?

Romano-Ward syndrome - caused by mutations in the KCNH2 gene

Mutations in the KCNH2 gene are a common cause of Romano-Ward syndrome, often called long QT syndrome. This condition causes the heart (cardiac) muscle to take longer than usual to recharge between beats, which can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

More than 500 KCNH2 gene mutations that cause Romano-Ward syndrome have been identified. Some of these mutations change a single protein building block (amino acid) in the KCNH2 protein, while other mutations delete several amino acids from the protein. These changes prevent the protein from assembling into functional ion channels or alter the channels' structure. As a result, the channels cannot properly regulate the flow of potassium ions in cardiac muscle cells. The reduced ion transport alters the transmission of electrical signals in the heart, increasing the risk of an irregular heartbeat that can cause fainting (syncope) or sudden death.

short QT syndrome - caused by mutations in the KCNH2 gene

Mutations in the KCNH2 gene can also cause a heart condition called short QT syndrome. In people with this condition, the cardiac muscle takes less time than usual to recharge between beats. This change increases the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause syncope or sudden death.

At least two mutations in the KCNH2 gene have been found to cause short QT syndrome in a small number of affected families. These mutations change single amino acids in the KCNH2 protein. The genetic changes alter the function of ion channels made with the KCNH2 protein, increasing the channels' activity. As a result, more potassium ions flow out of cardiac muscle cells at a critical time during the heartbeat, which can lead to an irregular heart rhythm.

other disorders - associated with the KCNH2 gene

Certain drugs, including medications used to treat arrhythmias, infections, seizures, and psychotic disorders, can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm in some people. This drug-induced heart condition, which is known as acquired long QT syndrome, increases the risk of cardiac arrest and sudden death. A small percentage of cases of acquired long QT syndrome occur in people who have an underlying variation in the KCNH2 gene.

Where is the KCNH2 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 7q36.1

Molecular Location on chromosome 7: base pairs 150,944,956 to 150,978,314

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The KCNH2 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 7 at position 36.1.

The KCNH2 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 7 at position 36.1.

More precisely, the KCNH2 gene is located from base pair 150,944,956 to base pair 150,978,314 on chromosome 7.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about KCNH2?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about KCNH2 helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the KCNH2 gene or gene products?

  • Eag related protein 1
  • ERG1
  • Ether-a-go-go related gene potassium channel 1
  • HERG
  • HERG1
  • human ether a-go-go-related gene
  • Kv11.1
  • LQT2
  • potassium voltage-gated channel, subfamily H (eag-related), member 2

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding KCNH2?

acids ; amino acid ; arrhythmia ; cardiac ; cardiac arrest ; cell ; central nervous system ; channel ; fainting ; gene ; ions ; ion transport ; long QT syndrome ; microglia ; muscle cells ; nervous system ; potassium ; protein ; psychotic ; subunit ; syncope ; syndrome ; voltage

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (12 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: June 2013
Published: February 8, 2016