Channel-mediated trans-membrane chloride movement is a key process in the active cell volume regulation under osmotic stress in most cells. However, thymocytes were hypothesized to regulate their volume by activating a coupled K-Cl cotransport mechanism. Under the patch-clamp, we found that osmotic swelling activates two types of macroscopic anion conductance with different voltage-dependence and pharmacology. At the single-channel level, we identified two types of events: one corresponded to the maxi-anion channel, and the other one had characteristics of the volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying (VSOR) chloride channel of intermediate conductance. A VSOR inhibitor, phloretin, significantly suppressed both macroscopic VSOR-type conductance and single-channel activity of intermediate amplitude. The maxi-anion channel activity was largely suppressed by Gd(3+) ions but not by phloretin. Surprisingly, [(dihydroindenyl)oxy] alkanoic acid (DIOA), a known antagonist of K-Cl cotransporter, was found to significantly suppress the activity of the VSOR-type single-channel events with no effect on the maxi-anion channels at 10 μM. The regulatory volume decrease (RVD) phase of cellular response to hypotonicity was mildly suppressed by Gd(3+) ions and was completely abolished by phloretin suggesting a major impact of the VSOR chloride channel and modulatory role of the maxi-anion channel. The inhibitory effect of DIOA was also strong, and, most likely, it occurred via blocking the VSOR Cl(-) channels.
Keywords: DIOA; anion channels; phloretin; thymocytes; volume regulation.