TMEM16A protein, also known as anoctamin-1, has been recently identified as an essential component of Ca(2+)-activated Cl(-) channels. We previously reported the existence of different TMEM16A isoforms generated by alternative splicing. In the present study, we have determined the functional properties of a minimal TMEM16A protein. This isoform, called TMEM16A(0), has a significantly shortened amino-terminus and lacks three alternative segments localized in the intracellular regions of the protein (total length: 840 amino acids). TMEM16A(0) expression is associated with Ca(2+)-activated Cl(-) channel activity as measured by three different functional assays based on the halide-sensitive yellow fluorescent protein, short-circuit current recordings, and patch-clamp technique. However, compared to a longer isoform, TMEM16(abc) (total length: 982 amino acids), TMEM16A(0) completely lacks voltage-dependent activation. Furthermore, TMEM16A(0) and TMEM16A(abc) have similar but not identical responses to extracellular anion replacement, thus suggesting a difference in ion selectivity and conductance. Our results indicate that TMEM16A(0) has the basic domains required for anion transport and Ca(2+)-sensitivity. However, the absence of alternative segments, which are present in more complex isoforms of TMEM16A, modifies the channel gating and ion transport ability.
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