Subunit-dependent oxidative stress sensitivity of LRRC8 volume-regulated anion channels

J Physiol. 2017 Nov 1;595(21):6719-6733. doi: 10.1113/JP274795. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Key points: Swelling-activated anion currents are modulated by oxidative conditions, but it is unknown if oxidation acts directly on the LRRC8 channel-forming proteins or on regulatory factors. We found that LRRC8A-LRRC8E heteromeric channels are dramatically activated by oxidation of intracellular cysteines, whereas LRRC8A-LRRC8C and LRRC8A-LRRC8D heteromers are inhibited by oxidation. Volume-regulated anion currents in Jurkat T lymphocytes were inhibited by oxidation, in agreement with a low expression of the LRRC8E subunit in these cells. Our results show that LRRC8 channel proteins are directly modulated by oxidation in a subunit-specific manner.

Abstract: The volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) is formed by heteromers of LRRC8 proteins containing the essential LRRC8A subunit and at least one among the LRRC8B-E subunits. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play physiological and pathophysiological roles and VRAC channels are highly ROS sensitive. However, it is unclear if ROS act directly on the channels or on molecules involved in the activation pathway. We used fluorescently tagged LRRC8 proteins that yield large constitutive currents to test direct effects of oxidation. We found that 8A/8E heteromers are dramatically potentiated (more than 10-fold) by oxidation of intracellular cysteine residues by chloramine-T or tert-butyl hydroperoxide. Oxidation was, however, not necessary for hypotonicity-induced activation. In contrast, 8A/8C and 8A/8D heteromers were strongly inhibited by oxidation. Endogenous VRAC currents in Jurkat T lymphocytes were similarly inhibited by oxidation, in agreement with the finding that LRRC8C and LRRC8D subunits were more abundantly expressed than LRRC8E in Jurkat cells. Our results show that LRRC8 channels are directly modulated by oxidation in a subunit-dependent manner.

Keywords: Anion channel; Oxidative stress; Volume regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Xenopus


  • LRRC8A protein, human
  • LRRC8B protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protein Subunits