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CLC-2 is a voltage-gated chloride channel that is widely expressed in mammalian tissues. In the central nervous system, CLC-2 appears in neurons and glia. Studies to define how this channel contributes to normal and pathophysiological function in the central nervous system raise questions that remain unresolved, in part due to the absence of precise pharmacological tools for modulating CLC-2 activity. Herein, we describe the development and optimization of AK-42, a specific small-molecule inhibitor of CLC-2 with nanomolar potency (IC50 = 17 ± 1 nM). AK-42 displays unprecedented selectivity (>1,000-fold) over CLC-1, the closest CLC-2 homolog, and exhibits no off-target engagement against a panel of 61 common channels, receptors, and transporters expressed in brain tissue. Computational docking, validated by mutagenesis and kinetic studies, indicates that AK-42 binds to an extracellular vestibule above the channel pore. In electrophysiological recordings of mouse CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons, AK-42 acutely and reversibly inhibits CLC-2 currents; no effect on current is observed on brain slices taken from CLC-2 knockout mice. These results establish AK-42 as a powerful tool for investigating CLC-2 neurophysiology.


Anna K Koster, Austin L Reese, Yuri Kuryshev, Xianlan Wen, Keri A McKiernan, Erin E Gray, Caiyun Wu, John R Huguenard, Merritt Maduke, J Du Bois. Development and validation of a potent and specific inhibitor for the CLC-2 chloride channel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020 Dec 22;117(51):32711-32721

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PMID: 33277431

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