In a search for genes involved in regulation of uterine contractility, we cloned a novel calcium-activated chloride channel gene, named rat Clca4, from pregnant rat uterus. The gene shares approximately 83% and 70% nucleotide homology with mouse Clca6 and human CLCA4, respectively, and was expressed primarily in rat uterus. The transcripts were upregulated at Gestational Day 22 (prior to parturition), implying a functional involvement in parturition. Western blot analysis showed that rat CLCA4 protein was present in uterus, lung, and heart, but not in any other tissues examined. Confocal microscopy revealed that rat CLCA4 is localized in cell membrane and could not be removed by alkaline or PBS washing. Transient transfection of rat CLCA4-enhanced green fluorescent protein in Chinese hamster ovary cells resulted in production of characteristic Cl− currents that could be activated by Ca2 and ionomycin but inhibited by niflumic acid, a CLCA-channel blocker. The identification and characterization of rat Clca4 help decipher the contribution of Ca2 -activated Cl− conductance in myometrial contractility.
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Vol. 80 • No. 4