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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 20;278(25):23066-75. Epub 2003 Apr 8.

Cell surface expression of the ROMK (Kir 1.1) channel is regulated by the aldosterone-induced kinase, SGK-1, and protein kinase A.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


The Kir1.1 (ROMK) subtypes of inward rectifier K+ channels mediate potassium secretion and regulate sodium chloride reabsorption in the kidney. The density of ROMK channels on the cortical collecting duct apical membrane is exquisitely regulated in concert with physiological demands. Although protein kinase A-dependent phosphorylation of one of the three phospho-acceptors in Kir1.1, Ser-44, also a canonical serum-glucocorticoid-regulated kinase (SGK-1) phosphorylation site, controls the number of active channels, it is unknown whether this involves activating dormant channels already residing on the plasma membrane or recruiting new channels to the cell surface. Here we explore the mechanism and test whether SGK-1 phosphorylation of ROMK regulates cell surface expression. Removal of the phosphorylation site by point mutation (Kir1.1, S44A) dramatically attenuated the macroscopic current density in Xenopus oocytes. As measured by antibody binding of external epitope-tagged forms of Kir1.1, surface expression of Kir1.1 S44A was inhibited, paralleling the reduction in macroscopic current. In contrast, surface expression and macroscopic current density was augmented by a phosphorylation mimic mutation, Kir1.1 S44D. In vitro phosphorylation assays revealed that Ser-44 is a substrate of SGK-1 phosphorylation, and expression of SGK-1 with the wild type channel increased channel density to the same level as the phosphorylation mimic mutation. Moreover, the stimulatory effect of SGK-1 was completely abrogated by mutation of the phosphorylation site. In conclusion, SGK-1 phosphorylation of Kir1.1 drives expression on the plasmalemma. Because SGK-1 is an early aldosterone-induced gene, our results suggest a possible molecular mechanism for aldosterone-dependent regulation of the secretory potassium channel in the kidney.

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