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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jan 30;98(3):1182-7.

Polycystin-2, the protein mutated in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), is a Ca2+-permeable nonselective cation channel.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Conales Ionicos, Departamento de Fisicoquimica y Quimica Analitica, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquimica, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Defects in polycystin-2, a ubiquitous transmembrane glycoprotein of unknown function, is a major cause of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), whose manifestation entails the development of fluid-filled cysts in target organs. Here, we demonstrate that polycystin-2 is present in term human syncytiotrophoblast, where it behaves as a nonselective cation channel. Lipid bilayer reconstitution of polycystin-2-positive human syncytiotrophoblast apical membranes displayed a nonselective cation channel with multiple subconductance states, and a high perm-selectivity to Ca2+. This channel was inhibited by anti-polycystin-2 antibody, Ca2+, La3+, Gd3+, and the diuretic amiloride. Channel function by polycystin-2 was confirmed by patch-clamping experiments of polycystin-2 heterologously infected Sf9 insect cells. Further, purified insect cell-derived recombinant polycystin-2 and in vitro translated human polycystin-2 had similar ion channel activity. The polycystin-2 channel may be associated with fluid accumulation and/or ion transport regulation in target epithelia, including placenta. Dysregulation of this channel provides a mechanism for the onset and progression of ADPKD.

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