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J Biol Chem. 2004 Mar 26;279(13):13140-7. Epub 2004 Jan 12.

The role of the carboxyl terminus in ClC chloride channel function.

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  • 1Institutes of Physiology, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany.


The human muscle chloride channel ClC-1 has a 398-amino acid carboxyl-terminal domain that resides in the cytoplasm and contains two CBS (cystathionine-beta-synthase) domains. To examine the role of this region, we studied various carboxyl-terminal truncations by heterologous expression in mammalian cells, whole-cell patch clamp recording, and confocal imaging. Channel constructs lacking parts of the distal CBS domain, CBS2, did not produce functional channels, whereas deletion of CBS1 was tolerated. ClC channels are dimeric proteins with two ion conduction pathways (protopores). In heterodimeric channels consisting of one wild type subunit and one subunit in which the carboxyl terminus was completely deleted, only the wild type protopore was functional, indicating that the carboxyl terminus supports the function of the protopore. All carboxyl-terminal-truncated mutant channels fused to yellow fluorescent protein were translated and the majority inserted into the plasma membrane as revealed by confocal microscopy. Fusion proteins of cyan fluorescent protein linked to various fragments of the carboxyl terminus formed soluble proteins that could be redistributed to the surface membrane through binding to certain truncated channel subunits. Stable binding only occurs between carboxyl-terminal fragments of a single subunit, not between carboxyl termini of different subunits and not between carboxyl-terminal and transmembrane domains. However, an interaction with transmembrane domains can modify the binding properties of particular carboxyl-terminal proteins. Our results demonstrate that the carboxyl terminus of ClC-1 is not necessary for intracellular trafficking but is critical for channel function. Carboxyl termini fold independently and modify individual protopores of the double-barreled channel.

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