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J Exp Biol. 2001 Jul;204(Pt 13):2289-99.

Analysis of epithelial K(+) transport in Malpighian tubules of Drosophila melanogaster: evidence for spatial and temporal heterogeneity.

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  • 1Department of Biology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1. rheaulmr@mcmaster.ca


Transport of K(+) by the lower, main and distal segments of the Malpighian tubules of Drosophila melanogaster was analyzed using self-referencing K(+)-selective microelectrodes. Transport properties of the Malpighian tubules of Drosophila melanogaster change along their length. Self-referencing ion-selective (SeRIS) microelectrode measurements (relative to the bath concentration of 20 mmoll(-1)) showed a 1% reduction (P<0.05) of [K(+)] in the unstirred layer adjacent to the main segment of the Malpighian tubules, confirming secretion of K(+) from the bath to the tubule lumen. Conversely, SeRIS measurements showed a 0.7% increase (P<0.05) in [K(+)] in the unstirred layer adjacent to the lower segment of Malpighian tubules, confirming reabsorption of K(+) from the luminal fluid to the bath. Measurements using SeRIS also showed that the distal segment neither secreted nor reabsorbed K(+). There was pronounced spatial heterogeneity in K(+) transport by the lower segment and the main segment; not all morphologically similar cells participated equally in K(+) transport, nor did all main segment cells respond equally to stimulation of K(+) transport by cyclic AMP. Pronounced temporal heterogeneity in K(+) reabsorption by the lower Malpighian tubules was also observed. We suggest that this reflects periodic reduction in K(+) reabsorption due to retention of fluid within the lower segment when the ureter contracts.

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