Amazing chloride channels: an overview


 Bernd Nilius, Laboratorium voor Fysiologie, Campus Gasthuisberg, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Aim: This review describes molecular and functional properties of the following Cl channels: the ClC family of voltage-dependent Cl channels, the cAMP-activated transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), Ca 2+ activated Cl channels (CaCC) and volume-regulated anion channels (VRAC). If structural data are available, their relationship with the function of Cl channels will be discussed. We also describe shortly some recently discovered channels, including high conductance Cl channels and the family of bestrophins. We illustrate the growing physiological importance of these channels in the plasma membrane and in intracellular membranes, including their involvement in transepithelial transport, pH regulation of intracellular organelles, regulation of excitability and volume regulation. Finally, we discuss the role of Cl channels in various diseases and describe the pathological phenotypes observed in knockout mice models.