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The Journal of physiology

Direct endosomal acidification by the outwardly rectifying CLC-5 Cl(-)/H(+) exchanger.


PMID 20421284

Abstract

The voltage-gated Cl(-) channel (CLC) family comprises cell surface Cl(-) channels and intracellular Cl(-)/H(+) exchangers. CLCs in organelle membranes are thought to assist acidification by providing a passive chloride conductance that electrically counterbalances H(+) accumulation. Following recent descriptions of Cl(-)/H(+) exchange activity in endosomal CLCs we have re-evaluated their role. We expressed human CLC-5 in HEK293 cells, recorded currents under a range of Cl(-) and H(+) gradients by whole-cell patch clamp, and examined the contribution of CLC-5 to endosomal acidification using a targeted pH-sensitive fluorescent protein. We found that CLC-5 only conducted outward currents, corresponding to Cl(-) flux into the cytoplasm and H(+) from the cytoplasm. Inward currents were never observed, despite the range of intracellular and extracellular Cl(-) concentrations and pH used. Endosomal acidification in HEK293 cells was prevented by 25 microm bafilomycin-A1, an inhibitor of vacuolar-type H(+)-ATPase (v-ATPase), which actively pumps H(+) into the endosomal lumen. Overexpression of CLC-5 in HEK293 cells conferred an additional bafilomycin-insensitive component to endosomal acidification. This effect was abolished by making mutations in CLC-5 that remove H(+) transport, which result in either no current (E268A) or bidirectional Cl(-) flux (E211A). Endosomal acidification in a proximal tubule cell line was partially sensitive to inhibition of v-ATPase by bafilomycin-A1. Furthermore, in the presence of bafilomycin-A1, acidification was significantly reduced and nearly fully ablated by partial and near-complete knockdown of endogenous CLC-5 by siRNA. These data suggest that CLC-5 is directly involved in endosomal acidification by exchanging endosomal Cl(-) for H(+).