- P. Zhou
- M.M. Polovitskaya
- T.J. Jentsch
- Journal of Biological Chemistry
- J Biol Chem 293 (35): 13440-13451
Volume-regulated anion channels (VRACs) are crucial for cell volume regulation and have various roles in physiology and pathology. VRACs were recently discovered to be formed by heteromers of LRRC8 (leucine-rich repeat-containing 8) proteins. However, the structural determinants of VRAC permeation and gating remain largely unknown. We show here that the short stretch preceding the first LRRC8 transmembrane domain determines VRAC conductance, ion permeability and inactivation gating. Substituted cysteine accessibility studies revealed that several of the first 15 LRRC8 residues are functionally important and exposed to a hydrophilic environment. Substituting glutamate 6 with cysteine decreased the amplitudes of swelling-activated ICl,vol currents, strongly increased iodide-over-chloride permeability, and markedly shifted the voltage-dependence of channel inactivation. Importantly, these effects were reversed by 2-sulfonatoethyl-methanethiosulfonate which restores the negative charge at this amino-acid position. Cd2+-mediated blocking of ICl,vol in cysteine variants suggested that the LRRC8 N-termini come close together in the multimeric channel complex and might form part of the pore. We propose a model in which the N termini of the LRRC8 subunits line the cytoplasmic portion of the VRAC pore, possibly by folding back into the ion permeation pathway.