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Symp Soc Exp Biol. 2002;(54):109-28.

Nephron structure and immunohistochemical localization of ion pumps and aquaporins in the kidney of frogs inhabiting different environments.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Toyama University, Gofuku 3190, Toyama 930-8555, Japan.


Amphibians inhabit areas ranging from completely aqueous to terrestrial environments and move between water and land. The kidneys of all anurans are similar at the gross morphological level: the structure of their nephrons is related to habitat. According to the observation by light and electron microscopy, the cells that make up the nephron differ among species. Immunohistochemical studies using antibodies to various ATPases showed a significant species difference depending on habitat. The immunoreactivity for Na+,K(+)-ATPase was low in the proximal tubules but high in the basolateral membranes of early distal tubules to collecting ducts in all species. In the proximal tubule, apical membranes of the cells were slightly immunoreactive to H(+)-ATPase antibody in aquatic species. In the connecting tubule and the collecting duct, the apical membrane of intercalated cells was immunoreactive in all species. In aquatic species, H+,K(+)-ATPase immunoreactivity was observed in cell along the proximal, distal tubule to the collecting duct. However, H+,K(+)-ATPase was present along the intercalated cells of the distal segments from early distal to collecting tubules in terrestrial and semi-aquatic species. In the renal corpuscle, the neck segment and the intermediate segment, immunoreactivities to ion pumps were not observed in any of the species examined. Taking together our observations, we conclude that in the aquatic species, a large volume of plasma must be filtered in a large glomerulus and the ultrafiltrate components are reabsorbed along a large and long proximal segment of the nephron. Control of tubular transport may be poorly developed when a small short distal segment of the nephron is observed. On the contrary, terrestrial species have a long and well-developed distal segment and regulation mechanisms of tubular transport may have evolved in these segments. Thus, the development of the late distal segments of the nephron is one of the important factors for the terrestrial adaptation.

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