The passage of ions to form and maintain electrochemical gradients is a key element for regulating cellular activities and is dependent on specific channel proteins or complexes. Certain ion channels have been the targets of pharmaceuticals that have had impact on a variety of cardiovascular and neurological diseases. Chloride channels regulate the movement of a major cellular anion, and in so doing they in part determine cell membrane potential, modify transepithelial transport, and maintain intracellular pH and cell volume. There are multiple families of chloride channel proteins, and respiratory, neuromuscular, and renal dysfunction may result from mutations in specific family members. Interest in chloride channels related to cancer first arose when the multidrug resistance protein (MDR/ P-glycoprotein) was linked to volume-activated chloride channel activity in cancer cells from patients undergoing chemotherapy. More recently, CLC, CLIC, and CLCA intracellular chloride channels have been recognized for their contributions in modifying cell cycle, apoptosis, cell adhesion, and cell motility. Moreover, advances in structural biology and high-throughput screening provide a platform to identify chemical compounds that modulate the activities of intracellular chloride channels thereby influencing chloride ion transport and altering cell behavior. This review will focus on several chloride channel families that may contribute to the cancer phenotype and suggest how they may serve as novel targets for primary cancer therapy.
Keywords: chloride channel, cftr, cic, clic, clca, cancer therapy, apoptosis, cell cycle
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