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The Role of Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Human Disease

The voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) is a β-barrel membrane protein located in the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM). VDAC has two conductance states: an open anion selective state, and a closed and slightly cation-selective state. VDAC conductance states play major roles in regulating permeability of ATP/ADP, regulation of calcium homeostasis, calcium flux within ER-mitochondria contact sites, and apoptotic signaling events. Three reported structures of VDAC provide information on the VDAC open state via X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Together, these structures provide insight on how VDAC aids metabolite transport. The interaction partners of VDAC, together with the permeability of the pore, affect the molecular pathology of diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD), Friedreich's ataxia (FA), lupus, and cancer. To fully address the molecular role of VDAC in disease pathology, major questions must be answered on the structural conformers of VDAC. For example, further information is needed on the structure of the closed state, how binding partners or membrane potential could lead to the open/closed states, the function and mobility of the N-terminal α-helical domain of VDAC, and the physiological role of VDAC oligomers. This review covers our current understanding of the various states of VDAC, VDAC interaction partners, and the roles they play in mitochondrial regulation pertaining to human diseases.

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