The mucolipin-2 (TRPML2) ion channel: a tissue-specific protein crucial to normal cell function

Pflugers Arch. 2016 Feb;468(2):177-92. doi: 10.1007/s00424-015-1732-2. Epub 2015 Sep 4.


The discovery of the TRPML subfamily of ion channels has created an exciting niche in the fields of membrane trafficking, signal transduction, autophagy, and metal homeostasis. The TRPML protein subfamily consists of three members, TRPML1, TRPML2, and TRPML3, which are encoded by MCOLN1, MCOLN2, and MCOLN3 genes, respectively. They are non-selective cation channels with six predicted transmembrane domains and intracellular amino- and carboxyl-terminus regions. They localize to the plasma membrane, endosomes, and lysosomes of cells. TRPML1 is associated with the human lysosomal storage disease known as mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV), but TRPML2 and TRPML3 have not been linked with a human disease. Although TRPML1 is expressed in many tissues, TRPML3 is expressed in a varied but limited set of tissues, while TRPML2 has a more limited expression pattern where it is mostly detected in lymphoid and myeloid tissues. This review focuses on TRPML2 because it appears to play an important, yet unrecognized role in the immune system. While the evidence has been mostly indirect, we present and discuss relevant data that strengthen the connection of TRPML2 with cellular immunity. We also discuss the functional redundancy between the TRPML proteins, and how such features could be exploited as a potential therapeutic strategy for MLIV disease. We present evidence that TRPML2 expression may complement certain phenotypic alterations in MLIV cells and briefly examine the challenges of functional complementation. In conclusion, the function of TRPML2 still remains obscure, but emerging data show that it may serve a critical role in immune cell development and inflammatory responses.

Keywords: B lymphocytes; Endosomes; Lysosomes; MCOLN2; Mucolipidosis IV; PAX5.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mucolipidoses / genetics
  • Mucolipidoses / therapy
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / chemistry
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / genetics
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / immunology
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / metabolism*


  • Mcoln2 protein, human
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels