An elaborate volume regulation system based on interplay of ion channels and transporters was evolved to cope with constant osmotic challenges caused by intensive metabolism, transport and other physiological/pathophysiological events. In animal cells, two types of anion channels are directly activated by cell swelling and involved in the regulatory volume decrease (RVD): volume-sensitive outwardly rectifying anion channel (VSOR), also called volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC), and Maxi-Cl which is the most major type of maxi-anion channel (MAC). These two channels have very different biophysical profiles and exhibit opposite dependence on intracellular ATP. After several decades of verifying many false-positive candidates for VSOR and Maxi-Cl, LRRC8 family proteins emerged as major VSOR components, and SLCO2A1 protein as a core of Maxi-Cl. Still, neither of these proteins alone can fully reproduce the native channel phenotypes suggesting existence of missing components. Although both VSOR and Maxi-Cl have pores wide enough to accommodate bulky ATP4- and MgATP2- anions, evidence accumulated hitherto, based on pharmacological and gene silencing experiments, suggests that Maxi-Cl, but not VSOR, serves as one of the major pathways for the release of ATP from swollen and ischemic/hypoxic cells. Relations of VSOR and Maxi-Cl with diseases and their selective pharmacology are the topics promoted by recent advance in molecular identification of the two volume-activated, volume-regulatory anion channels.
Keywords: ATP conductance; ATP release; Anion channel; Cell volume regulation; LRRC8; Regulatory volume decrease; SLCO2A1.
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