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Cell Biochem Biophys. 2004;41(2):233-58.

Ion channels and transporters involved in cell volume regulation and sensor mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Cell Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, School of Life Sciences, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies , SOKENDAI, Okazaki, Japan.


All animal cell types have an appropriate volume. Even under physiological conditions of constant extracellular osmolarity, cells must regulate their volume. Cell volume is subjected to alterations because of persistent physicochemical osmotic load resulting from Donnan-type colloid osmotic pressure and of cell activity-associated changes in intracellular osmolarity resulting from osmolyte transport and metabolism. The strategy adopted by animal cells for coping with volume regulation on osmotic perturbation is to activate transport pathways, including channels and transporters, mainly for inorganic osmolytes to drive water flow. Under normotonic conditions, cells undergo volume regulation by pump-mediated mechanisms. Under anisotonic conditions, volume regulation occurs by additional channel/transporter-mediated mechanisms. Cell volume regulation is also attained through adjustment of intracellular levels not only of inorganic but also of organic osmolytes with changing the expression of their transporters or regulation of metabolism. In cell volume regulation mechanism, several "volume sensors" are thought to be involved. A volume-sensitive Cl- channel has lately attracted considerable attention in this regard.

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