Objective: The SLC26A4 protein (pendrin) seems to be involved in the exchange of chloride with other anions, therefore being responsible for iodide organification in the thyroid gland and the conditioning of the endolymphatic fluid in the inner ear. Malfunction of SLC26A4 leads to Pendred syndrome, characterized by mild thyroid dysfunction often associated with goiter and/or prelingual deafness. The precise function of the SLC26A4 protein, however, is still elusive. An open question is still whether the SLC26A4-induced ion exchange mechanism is electrogenic or electroneutral. Recently, it has been shown that human pendrin expressed in monkey cells leads to chloride currents. Methods: We overexpressed the human SLC26A4 isoform in HEK293 Phoenix cells and measured cationic and anionic currents by the patch-clamp technique in whole cell configuration. Results: Here we show that human pendrin expressed in human cells does not lead to the activation of chloride currents, but, in contrast, leads to an increase of cationic currents. Conclusion: Our experiments suggest that the SLC26A4-induced chloride transport is electroneutral when expressed in human cellular systems.
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