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JOP. 2001 Jul;2(4 Suppl):159-64.

The cellular physiology of carbonic anhydrases.

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  • 1Program in Membrane Biology/Renal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital. Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Carbonic anhydrases are zinc metalloenzymes that catalyze the reversible hydration of CO(2) to form HCO(3)(-) and protons according to the following reaction: CO(2) + H(2)O <=> H(2)CO(3) <=> HCO(3)(-) + H(+). The first reaction is catalyzed by carbonic anhydrase and the second reaction occurs instantaneously. The carbonic anhydrase (CA) gene family includes ten enzymatically active members, which are major players in many physiological processes, including renal and male reproductive tract acidification, bone resorption, respiration, gluconeogenesis, signal transduction, and formation of gastric acid. The newly identified CA IX (previously called MN) and CA XII are related to cell proliferation and oncogenesis. Carbonic anhydrase isozymes have different kinetic properties and they are present in various tissues and in various cell compartments. CA I, II, III and VII are cytoplasmic, CA V is mitochondrial, and CA VI is present in salivary secretions. CA IV, IX, XII and XIV are membrane proteins: CA IV is a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol-anchored protein, and CA IX, XII and XIV are transmembrane proteins. The present work will focus on the roles of CA II and CA IV in transepithelial proton secretion and bicarbonate reabsorption processes. The localization of these isoforms in selected epithelia that are involved in net acid/base transport, such as kidney proximal tubules and collecting ducts, and tubules from the male reproductive tract will be reviewed.

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