Neuronal Cl- homeostasis is regulated by the activity of two cation chloride co-transporters (CCCs), the K+-Cl- cotransporter KCC2 and the Na+-K+-Cl- cotransporter NKCC1, which are primarily extruding and importing chloride in neurons, respectively. Several neurological and psychiatric disorders including epilepsy, neuropathic pain, schizophrenia and autism are associated with altered neuronal chloride (Cl-) homeostasis. A current view is that the accumulation of intracellular Cl- in neurons as a result of KCC2 down-regulation and/or NKCC1 up-regulation may weaken inhibitory GABA signaling and thereby promote the development of pathological activities. CCC activity is determined mainly by their level of expression in the plasma membrane. Furthermore, CCCs undergo "diffusion-trapping" in the membrane, a mechanism that is rapidly adjusted by activity-dependent post-translational modifications i.e. phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of key serine and threonine residues. This represents probably the most rapid cellular mechanism for adapting CCC function to changes in neuronal activity. Therefore, interfering with these mechanisms may help restoring Cl- homeostasis and inhibition under pathological conditions. This article is part of the special issue entitled 'Mobility and trafficking of neuronal membrane proteins'.
Keywords: Chloride homeostasis; Clustering; Epilepsy; GABAergic transmission; KCC2; Lateral diffusion; NKCC1.
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