Hepatocytes possess chloride channels at the plasma membrane and in multiple intracellular compartments. These channels are required for cell volume regulation and acidification of intracellular organelles. Evidence also supports a role of chloride channels in modulation of apoptosis and cell growth. Swelling- and Ca2+-activated chloride channels have been identified in hepatocyte plasma membranes, and chloride channels have been observed in the membranes of lysosomes, endosomes, Golgi, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, and the nucleus. This review summarizes the functions of these channels and discusses the specific channel molecules they may represent. Chloride channel molecules shown to be expressed in hepatocytes include members of the ClC channel family (ClC-2, ClC-3, ClC-5, and ClC-7), members of the newly identified CLIC family of intracellular chloride channels (CLIC-1 and CLIC-4), the mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channel, and a newly identified intracellular channel, MCLC (Mid-1 related chloride channel). Current understanding does not include a molecular identification of most of the observed channel functions, but details of the molecular properties of these channel molecules should allow future identification and further understanding of chloride channel function in hepatocytes.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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