The TMEM16A calcium-activated chloride channel is a promising therapeutic target for various diseases. Niclosamide, an anthelmintic medication, has been considered a TMEM16A inhibitor for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but was recently found to possess broad-spectrum off-target effects. Here, we show that, under physiological Ca2+ (200–500 nM) and voltages, niclosamide acutely potentiates TMEM16A. Our computational and functional characterizations pinpoint a putative niclosamide binding site on the extracellular side of TMEM16A. Mutations in this site attenuate the potentiation. Moreover, niclosamide potentiates endogenous TMEM16A in vascular smooth muscle cells, triggers intracellular calcium increase, and constricts the murine mesenteric artery. Our findings advise caution when considering clinical applications of niclosamide as a TMEM16A inhibitor. The identification of the putative niclosamide binding site provides insights into the mechanism of TMEM16A pharmacological modulation and provides insights into developing specific TMEM16A modulators to treat human diseases.

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