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      Known structures and unknown mechanisms of TMEM16 scramblases and channels


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          Falzone et al. interpret the mechanisms underlying the activity of TMEM16 family members from recent structural and functional work.


          The TMEM16 family of membrane proteins is composed of both Ca 2+-gated Cl channels and Ca 2+-dependent phospholipid scramblases. The functional diversity of TMEM16s underlies their involvement in numerous signal transduction pathways that connect changes in cytosolic Ca 2+ levels to cellular signaling networks. Indeed, defects in the function of several TMEM16s cause a variety of genetic disorders, highlighting their fundamental pathophysiological importance. Here, we review how our mechanistic understanding of TMEM16 function has been shaped by recent functional and structural work. Remarkably, the recent determination of near-atomic-resolution structures of TMEM16 proteins of both functional persuasions has revealed how relatively minimal rearrangements in the substrate translocation pathway are sufficient to precipitate the dramatic functional differences that characterize the family. These structures, when interpreted in the light of extensive functional analysis, point to an unusual mechanism for Ca 2+-dependent activation of TMEM16 proteins in which substrate permeation is regulated by a combination of conformational rearrangements and electrostatics. These breakthroughs pave the way to elucidate the mechanistic bases of ion and lipid transport by the TMEM16 proteins and unravel the molecular links between these transport activities and their function in human pathophysiology.

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          Most cited references139

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          TMEM16A confers receptor-activated calcium-dependent chloride conductance.

          Calcium (Ca(2+))-activated chloride channels are fundamental mediators in numerous physiological processes including transepithelial secretion, cardiac and neuronal excitation, sensory transduction, smooth muscle contraction and fertilization. Despite their physiological importance, their molecular identity has remained largely unknown. Here we show that transmembrane protein 16A (TMEM16A, which we also call anoctamin 1 (ANO1)) is a bona fide Ca(2+)-activated chloride channel that is activated by intracellular Ca(2+) and Ca(2+)-mobilizing stimuli. With eight putative transmembrane domains and no apparent similarity to previously characterized channels, ANO1 defines a new family of ionic channels. The biophysical properties as well as the pharmacological profile of ANO1 are in full agreement with native Ca(2+)-activated chloride currents. ANO1 is expressed in various secretory epithelia, the retina and sensory neurons. Furthermore, knockdown of mouse Ano1 markedly reduced native Ca(2+)-activated chloride currents as well as saliva production in mice. We conclude that ANO1 is a candidate Ca(2+)-activated chloride channel that mediates receptor-activated chloride currents in diverse physiological processes.
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            Exposure of phosphatidylserine on the surface of apoptotic lymphocytes triggers specific recognition and removal by macrophages.

            During normal tissue remodeling, macrophages remove unwanted cells, including those that have undergone programmed cell death, or apoptosis. This widespread process extends to the deletion of thymocytes (negative selection), in which cells expressing inappropriate Ag receptors undergo apoptosis, and are phagocytosed by thymic macrophages. Although phagocytosis of effete leukocytes by macrophages has been known since the time of Metchnikoff, only recently has it been recognized that apoptosis leads to surface changes that allow recognition and removal of these cells before they are lysed. Our data suggest that macrophages specifically recognize phosphatidylserine that is exposed on the surface of lymphocytes during the development of apoptosis. Macrophage phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes was inhibited, in a dose-dependent manner, by liposomes containing phosphatidyl-L-serine, but not by liposomes containing other anionic phospholipids, including phosphatidyl-D-serine. Phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes was also inhibited by the L isoforms of compounds structurally related to phosphatidylserine, including glycerophosphorylserine and phosphoserine. The membranes of apoptotic lymphocytes bound increased amounts of merocyanine 540 dye relative to those of normal cells, indicating that their membrane lipids were more loosely packed, consistent with a loss of membrane phospholipid asymmetry. Apoptotic lymphocytes were shown to express phosphatidylserine (PS) externally, because PS on their surfaces was accessible to derivatization by fluorescamine, and because apoptotic cells expressed procoagulant activity. These observations suggest that apoptotic lymphocytes lose membrane phospholipid asymmetry and expose phosphatidylserine on the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane. Macrophages then phagocytose apoptotic lymphocytes after specific recognition of the exposed PS.
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              TMEM16A, a membrane protein associated with calcium-dependent chloride channel activity.

              Calcium-dependent chloride channels are required for normal electrolyte and fluid secretion, olfactory perception, and neuronal and smooth muscle excitability. The molecular identity of these membrane proteins is still unclear. Treatment of bronchial epithelial cells with interleukin-4 (IL-4) causes increased calcium-dependent chloride channel activity, presumably by regulating expression of the corresponding genes. We performed a global gene expression analysis to identify membrane proteins that are regulated by IL-4. Transfection of epithelial cells with specific small interfering RNA against each of these proteins shows that TMEM16A, a member of a family of putative plasma membrane proteins with unknown function, is associated with calcium-dependent chloride current, as measured with halide-sensitive fluorescent proteins, short-circuit current, and patch-clamp techniques. Our results indicate that TMEM16A is an intrinsic constituent of the calcium-dependent chloride channel. Identification of a previously unknown family of membrane proteins associated with chloride channel function will improve our understanding of chloride transport physiopathology and allow for the development of pharmacological tools useful for basic research and drug development.

                Author and article information

                J Gen Physiol
                J. Gen. Physiol
                The Journal of General Physiology
                Rockefeller University Press
                02 July 2018
                : 150
                : 7
                : 933-947
                [1 ]Department of Biochemistry, Weill Cornell Medical School, New York, NY
                [2 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medical School, New York, NY
                [3 ]Department of Physiology, Biophysics and Systems Biology, Weill Cornell Medical School, New York, NY
                Author notes
                Correspondence to Alessio Accardi: ala2022@ 123456med.cornell.edu
                Author information
                © 2018 Falzone et al.

                This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).

                : 30 March 2018
                : 29 May 2018
                Funded by: National Institutes of Health, DOI https://doi.org/10.13039/100000002;
                Award ID: GM106717
                Funded by: Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier

                Anatomy & Physiology
                Anatomy & Physiology


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