Anoctamin/TMEM16 family members are Ca2+-activated Cl channels


  • This report was presented at The Journal of Physiology Symposium on Chloride channels: insight into function from human disease, which took place at the Joint Meeting of the Chinese Association for Physiological Sciences, The Physiological Society and the American, Australian and Canadian Physiological Societies at Beijing 2008, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China, 18 October 2008. It was commissioned by the Editorial Board and reflects the views of the authors.

H. C. Hartzell: Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, 535 Whitehead Bldg, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Email:


Ca2+-activated Cl channels (CaCCs) perform many important functions in cell physiology including secretion of fluids from acinar cells of secretory glands, amplification of olfactory transduction, regulation of cardiac and neuronal excitability, mediation of the fast block to polyspermy in amphibian oocytes, and regulation of vascular tone. Although a number of proteins have been proposed to be responsible for CaCC currents, the anoctamin family (ANO, also known as TMEM16) exhibits characteristics most similar to those expected for the classical CaCC. Interestingly, this family of proteins has previously attracted the interest of both developmental and cancer biologists. Some members of this family are up-regulated in a number of tumours and functional deficiency in others is linked to developmental defects.