The Ion Channels of Endomembranes

Physiol Rev. 2024 Mar 7. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00025.2023. Online ahead of print.


The endomembrane system consists of organellar membranes in the biosynthetic pathway: endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi apparatus, and secretory vesicles, as well as those in the degradative pathway: early endosomes, macropinosomes, phagosomes, autophagosomes, late endosomes, and lysosomes. These endomembrane organelles/vesicles work together to synthesize, modify, package, transport, and degrade proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, regulating the balance between cellular anabolism and catabolism. Large ion concentration gradients exist across endomembranes - Ca2+ gradients for most endomembrane organelles and H+ gradients for the acidic compartments. Ion (Na+, K+, H+, Ca2+, and Cl-) channels on the organellar membranes control ion flux in response to cellular cues, allowing rapid informational exchange between the cytosol and organelle lumen. Recent advances in organelle proteomics, organellar electrophysiology, luminal and juxta-organellar ion imaging have led to molecular identification and functional characterization of about two dozen endomembrane ion channels. For example, whereas IP3R1-3 channels mediate Ca2+ release from the ER in response to neurotransmitter and hormone stimulation, TRPML1-3 and TMEM175 channels mediate lysosomal Ca2+ and H+ release, respectively, in response to nutritional and trafficking cues. This review aims to summarize the current understandings of these endomembrane channels, with a focus on their subcellular localizations, ion permeation properties, gating mechanisms, cell biological functions, and disease relevance.

Keywords: IP3R; RyR; TMEM175; TPC2; TRPML1.

Publication types

  • Review