Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

One Swell Ion Channel

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Science Signaling  13 May 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 325, pp. ec128
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005469

When mammalian cells are faced with osmotic challenges, they need to swell or shrink. The molecular characterization of the volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) remains unknown, although many candidate proteins have been proposed. Voss et al. (see the Perspective by Mindell) used a genome-wide screen to identify a group of leucine-rich repeat–containing (LRRC) proteins necessary for forming VRAC. Suppression of LRRC8A nearly eliminated the presence of VRAC in mammalian cells. A hetero-oligomer of LRRC proteins appears to form VRAC. Identification of VRAC components is an essential step forward in the understanding of swelling-activated ion channels and provides opportunities for understanding both the mechanism of the channel and its role in physiology.

F. K. Voss, F. Ullrich, J. Münch, K. Lazarow, D. Lutter, N. Mah, M. A. Andrade-Navarro, J. P. von Kries, T. Stauber, T. J. Jentsch, Identification of LRRC8 heteromers as an essential component of the volume-regulated anion channel VRAC. Science 344, 634–638 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J. A. Mindell, A SWELL channel indeed. Science 344, 585–586 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]