Chloride and the endosomal–lysosomal pathway: emerging roles of CLC chloride transporters

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Abstract

Several members of the CLC family of Cl− channels and transporters are expressed in vesicles of the endocytotic–lysosomal pathway, all of which are acidified by V-type proton pumps. These CLC proteins are thought to facilitate vesicular acidification by neutralizing the electric current of the H+-ATPase. Indeed, the disruption of ClC-5 impaired the acidification of endosomes, and the knock-out (KO) of ClC-3 that of endosomes and synaptic vesicles. KO mice are available for all vesicular CLCs (ClC-3 to ClC-7), and ClC-5 and ClC-7, as well as its β-subunit Ostm1, are mutated in human disease. The associated mouse and human pathologies, ranging from impaired endocytosis and nephrolithiasis (ClC-5) to neurodegeneration (ClC-3), lysosomal storage disease (ClC-6, ClC-7/Ostm1) and osteopetrosis (ClC-7/Ostm1), were crucial in identifying the physiological roles of vesicular CLCs. Whereas the intracellular localization of ClC-6 and ClC-7/Ostm1 precluded biophysical studies, the partial expression of ClC-4 and −5 at the cell surface allowed the detection of strongly outwardly rectifying currents that depended on anions and pH. Surprisingly, ClC-4 and ClC-5 (and probably ClC-3) do not function as Cl− channels, but rather as electrogenic Cl−–H+ exchangers. This hints at an important role for luminal chloride in the endosomal–lysosomal system.

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