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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 May 1;302(9):F1098-103. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00664.2011. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Protein kinase C-α mediates hypertonicity-stimulated increase in urea transporter phosphorylation in the inner medullary collecting duct.

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  • 1Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Renal Division, 1639 Pierce Dr., Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


The UT-A1 urea transporter plays a critical role in the production of concentrated urine. Both vasopressin and hypertonicity increase urea permeability in rat terminal inner medullary collecting ducts (IMCD). Each agonist independently increases UT-A1 phosphorylation and apical plasma membrane accumulation. Vasopressin activates PKA and phosphorylates UT-A1 at serines 486 and 499. Hypertonicity stimulates urea permeability through protein kinase C (PKC) and intracellular calcium. To determine whether the hypertonic stimulation of urea permeability results from a PKC-mediated phosphorylation of UT-A1, rat IMCDs were metabolically labeled with [(32)P]. Hypertonicity stimulated UT-A1 phosphorylation, and this increase was blocked by preincubation with a PKC inhibitor. IMCDs were biotinylated to assess plasma membrane UT-A1. Hypertonicity increased biotinylated UT-A1, and this increase was blocked by preincubation with a PKC inhibitor. When PKC was directly activated using a phorbol ester, total UT-A1 phosphorylation increased, but phosphorylation at serine 486 was not increased, indicating that PKC did not phosphorylate UT-A1 at the same residue as PKA. Since PKC-α is a calcium-dependent PKC isoform and PKC-α knockout mice have a urine-concentrating defect, it suggested that PKC-α may mediate the response to hypertonicity. Consistent with this hypothesis, hypertonicity increased phospho-PKC-α in rat IMCDs. Finally, PKC-α knockout mice were used to determine whether hypertonicity could stimulate UT-A1 phosphorylation in the absence of PKC-α. Hypertonicity significantly increased UT-A1 phosphorylation in wild-type mice but not in PKC-α knockout mice. We conclude that PKC-α mediates the hypertonicity-stimulated increase in UT-A1 phosphorylation in the IMCD.

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