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TMEM16F, a dual-function phospholipid scramblase and ion channel, is important in blood coagulation, skeleton development, HIV infection, and cell fusion. Despite advances in understanding its structure and activation mechanism, how TMEM16F is regulated by intracellular factors remains largely elusive. Here we report that TMEM16F lipid scrambling and ion channel activities are strongly influenced by intracellular pH (pHi). We found that low pHi attenuates, whereas high pHi potentiates, TMEM16F channel and scramblase activation under physiological concentrations of intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i). We further demonstrate that TMEM16F pHi sensitivity depends on [Ca2+]i and exhibits a bell-shaped relationship with [Ca2+]i: TMEM16F channel activation becomes increasingly pHi sensitive from resting [Ca2+]i to micromolar [Ca2+]i, but when [Ca2+]i increases beyond 15 µM, pHi sensitivity gradually diminishes. The mutation of a Ca2+-binding residue that markedly reduces TMEM16F Ca2+ sensitivity (E667Q) maintains the bell-shaped relationship between pHi sensitivity and Ca2+ but causes a dramatic shift of the peak [Ca2+]i from 15 µM to 3 mM. Our biophysical characterizations thus pinpoint that the pHi regulatory effects on TMEM16F stem from the competition between Ca2+ and protons for the primary Ca2+-binding residues in the pore. Within the physiological [Ca2+]i range, the protonation state of the primary Ca2+-binding sites influences Ca2+ binding and regulates TMEM16F activation. Our findings thus uncover a regulatory mechanism of TMEM16F by pHi and shine light on our understanding of the pathophysiological roles of TMEM16F in diseases with dysregulated pHi, including cancer. © 2020 Liang and Yang.


Pengfei Liang, Huanghe Yang. Molecular underpinning of intracellular pH regulation on TMEM16F. The Journal of general physiology. 2021 Feb 01;153(2)

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PMID: 33346788

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