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Background: VDAC1 forms a channel through the mitochondrial outer membrane and also the plasma membrane. The channel at the outer mitochondrial membrane allows diffusion of small hydrophilic molecules, in the plasma membrane it is involved in cell volume regulation and apoptosis. It adopts an open conformation at low or zero membrane potential and a closed conformation at potentials above 30-40 mV. The open state has a weak anion selectivity whereas the closed state is cation-selective. The protein may participate in the formation of the permeability transition pore complex (PTPC) responsible for the release of mitochondrial products that triggers apoptosis.