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Annu Rev Physiol. 2017 Feb 10;79:119-143. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-022516-034031. Epub 2016 Nov 16.

Anoctamins/TMEM16 Proteins: Chloride Channels Flirting with Lipids and Extracellular Vesicles.

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Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322; email:


Anoctamin (ANO)/TMEM16 proteins exhibit diverse functions in cells throughout the body and are implicated in several human diseases. Although the founding members ANO1 (TMEM16A) and ANO2 (TMEM16B) are Ca2+-activated Cl- channels, most ANO paralogs are Ca2+-dependent phospholipid scramblases that serve as channels facilitating the movement (scrambling) of phospholipids between leaflets of the membrane bilayer. Phospholipid scrambling significantly alters the physical properties of the membrane and its landscape and has vast downstream signaling consequences. In particular, phosphatidylserine exposed on the external leaflet of the plasma membrane functions as a ligand for receptors vital for cell-cell communication. A major consequence of Ca2+-dependent scrambling is the release of extracellular vesicles that function as intercellular messengers by delivering signaling proteins and noncoding RNAs to alter target cell function. We discuss the physiological implications of Ca2+-dependent phospholipid scrambling, the extracellular vesicles associated with this activity, and the roles of ANOs in these processes.


calcium; channelopathies; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; ion channels; phospholipid scramblases

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