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Members of the ubiquitously expressed CLC protein family of chloride channels and transporters play important roles in regulating cellular chloride and pH. The CLCs that function as Cl-/H+ antiporters, ClCs 3-7, are essential in particular for the acidification of endosomal compartments and protein degradation. These proteins are broadly expressed in the nervous system, and mutations that disrupt their expression are responsible for several human genetic diseases. Furthermore, knock-out of ClC3 and ClC7 in the mouse result in the degeneration of the hippocampus and the retina. Despite this evidence of their importance in retinal function, the expression patterns of different CLC transporters in different retinal cell types are as yet undescribed. Previous work in our lab has shown that in chicken amacrine cells, internal Cl- can be dynamic. To determine whether CLCs have the potential to participate, we used PCR and immunohistochemical techniques to examine CLC transporter expression in the chicken retina. We observed a high level of variation in the retinal expression levels and patterns among the different CLC proteins examined. These findings, which represent the first systematic investigation of CLC transporter expression in the retina, support diverse functions for the different CLCs in this tissue. © 2011 McMains et al.

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