Neuronal ClC-3 splice variants differ in subcellular localizations, but mediate identical transport functions [Molecular Biophysics]

September 4th, 2015 by Guzman, R. E., Miranda Laferte, E., Franzen, A., Fahlke, C.

ClC-3 is a member of the CLC family of anion channels and transporters, for which multiple functional properties and subcellular localizations have been reported. Since alternative splicing often results in proteins with diverse properties, we investigated to what extent alternative splicing might influence subcellular targeting and function of ClC-3. We identified three alternatively spliced ClC-3 isoforms, ClC-3a, ClC-3b and ClC-3c, in mouse brain, with ClC-3c being the predominant splice variant. Whereas ClC-3a and ClC-3b are present in late endosomes/lysosomes, ClC-3c is targeted to recycling endosomes via a novel amino-terminal isoleucine-proline (IP) motif. Surface membrane insertion of a fraction of ClC-3c transporters permitted electrophysiological characterization of this splice variant through whole-cell patch clamping on transfected mammalian cells. In contrast, neutralization of the amino-terminal dileucine-like motifs was required for functional analysis of ClC-3a and ClC-3b. Heterologous expression of ClC-3a or ClC-3b carrying mutations in amino-terminal dileucine motifs as well as WT ClC-3c in HEK293T cells resulted in outwardly rectifying Cl- currents with significant capacitive current components. We conclude that alternative splicing of Clcn3 results in proteins with different subcellular localizations, but leaves the transport function of the proteins unaffected.