Dynamic change of electrostatic field in TMEM16F permeation pathway shifts its ion selectivity

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TMEM16F is activated by elevated intracellular Ca2+, and functions as a small-conductance ion channel and as a phospholipid scramblase. In contrast to its paralogs, the TMEM16A/B calcium-activated chloride channels, mouse TMEM16F has been reported as a cation-, anion-, or non-selective ion channel, without a definite conclusion. Starting with the Q559K mutant that shows no current rundown and less outward rectification in excised patch, we found that the channel shifted its ion selectivity in response to the change of intracellular Ca2+ concentration, with an increased permeability ratio of Cl- to Na+ (PCl-/PNa+) at a higher Ca2+ level. The gradual shift of relative ion permeability did not correlate with the channel activation state. Instead, it was indicative of an alteration of electrostatic field in the permeation pathway. The dynamic change of ion selectivity suggests a charge-screening mechanism for TMEM16F ion conduction, and it provides hints to further studies of TMEM16F physiological functions.

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