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FASEB J. 2011 Nov;25(11):4048-62. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-191627. Epub 2011 Aug 11.

Small-molecule activators of TMEM16A, a calcium-activated chloride channel, stimulate epithelial chloride secretion and intestinal contraction.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0521, USA.


TMEM16A (ANO1) is a calcium-activated chloride channel (CaCC) expressed in secretory epithelia, smooth muscle, and other tissues. Cell-based functional screening of ∼110,000 compounds revealed compounds that activated TMEM16A CaCC conductance without increasing cytoplasmic Ca(2+). By patch-clamp, N-aroylaminothiazole "activators" (E(act)) strongly increased Cl(-) current at 0 Ca(2+), whereas tetrazolylbenzamide "potentiators" (F(act)) were not active at 0 Ca(2+) but reduced the EC(50) for Ca(2+)-dependent TMEM16A activation. Of 682 analogs tested, the most potent activator (E(act)) and potentiator (F(act)) produced large and more sustained CaCC Cl(-) currents than general agonists of Ca(2+) signaling, with EC(50) 3-6 μM and Cl(-) conductance comparable to that induced transiently by Ca(2+)-elevating purinergic agonists. Analogs of activators were identified that fully inhibited TMEM16A Cl(-) conductance, providing further evidence for direct TMEM16A binding. The TMEM16A activators increased CaCC conductance in human salivary and airway submucosal gland epithelial cells, and IL-4 treated bronchial cells, and stimulated submucosal gland secretion in human bronchi and smooth muscle contraction in mouse intestine. Small-molecule, TMEM16A-targeted activators may be useful for drug therapy of cystic fibrosis, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal hypomotility disorders, and for pharmacological dissection of TMEM16A function.

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