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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):F559-67. Epub 2004 Nov 2.

Renal effects of Tamm-Horsfall protein (uromodulin) deficiency in mice.

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Medical Faculty of the Charité, Department of Anatomy, Franz Volhard Clinic, HELIOS Clinics and Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany.


The Tamm-Horsfall protein (THP; uromodulin), the dominant protein in normal urine, is produced exclusively in the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop. THP mutations are associated with disease; however, the physiological role of THP remains obscure. We generated THP gene-deficient mice (THP -/-) and compared them with wild-type (WT) mice. THP -/- mice displayed anatomically normal kidneys. Steady-state electrolyte handling was not different between strains. Creatinine clearance was 63% lower in THP -/- than in WT mice (P < 0.05). Sucrose loading induced no changes between strains. However, water deprivation for 24 h decreased urine volume from 58 +/- 9 to 28 +/- 4 microl x g body wt(-1) x 24 h(-1) in WT mice (P < 0.05), whereas in THP -/- mice this decrease was less pronounced (57 +/- 4 to 41 +/- 5 microl x g body wt(-1) x 24 h(-1); P < 0.05), revealing significant interstrain difference (P < 0.05). We further used RT-PCR, Northern and Western blotting, and histochemistry to study renal transporters, channels, and regulatory systems under steady-state conditions. We found that major distal transporters were upregulated in THP -/- mice, whereas juxtaglomerular immunoreactive cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and renin mRNA expression were both decreased in THP -/- compared with WT mice. These observations suggest that THP influences transporters in Henle's loop. The decreased COX-2 and renin levels may be related to an altered tubular salt load at the macula densa, whereas the increased expression of distal transporters may reflect compensatory mechanisms. Our data raise the hypothesis that THP plays an important regulatory role in the kidney.

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