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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 24, 2019

More than just a pressure relief valve: physiological roles of volume-regulated LRRC8 anion channels

  • Lingye Chen , Benjamin König , Tianbao Liu , Sumaira Pervaiz , Yasmin S. Razzaque and Tobias Stauber ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal Biological Chemistry


The volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) is a key player in the volume regulation of vertebrate cells. This ubiquitously expressed channel opens upon osmotic cell swelling and potentially other cues and releases chloride and organic osmolytes, which contributes to regulatory volume decrease (RVD). A plethora of studies have proposed a wide range of physiological roles for VRAC beyond volume regulation including cell proliferation, differentiation and migration, apoptosis, intercellular communication by direct release of signaling molecules and by supporting the exocytosis of insulin. VRAC was additionally implicated in pathological states such as cancer therapy resistance and excitotoxicity under ischemic conditions. Following extensive investigations, 5 years ago leucine-rich repeat-containing family 8 (LRRC8) heteromers containing LRRC8A were identified as the pore-forming components of VRAC. Since then, molecular biological approaches have allowed further insight into the biophysical properties and structure of VRAC. Heterologous expression, siRNA-mediated downregulation and genome editing in cells, as well as the use of animal models have enabled the assessment of the proposed physiological roles, together with the identification of new functions including spermatogenesis and the uptake of antibiotics and platinum-based cancer drugs. This review discusses the recent molecular biological insights into the physiology of VRAC in relation to its previously proposed roles.


The research group is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, e:Bio grant no. 031A314 to T.S.) and PhD fellowships from the Oversea Study Program of Guangzhou Elite Project (L.C.), the China Scholarship Council (T.L.) and the University of Punjab (S.P.).


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Received: 2019-03-12
Accepted: 2019-04-27
Published Online: 2019-08-24
Published in Print: 2019-11-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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