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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2008 Feb;294(2):C488-94. Epub 2007 Dec 26.

Alkaline pH- and cAMP-induced V-ATPase membrane accumulation is mediated by protein kinase A in epididymal clear cells.

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Renal-Electrolyte Division, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, A915 Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace St., Pittsburgh, PA 15263, USA.


In the epididymis, low luminal bicarbonate and acidic pH maintain sperm quiescent during maturation and storage. The vacuolar H(+)-ATPase (V-ATPase) in epididymal clear cells plays a major role in luminal acidification. We have shown previously that cAMP, luminal alkaline pH, and activation of the bicarbonate-regulated soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) induce V-ATPase apical accumulation in these cells, thereby stimulating proton secretion into the epididymal lumen. Here we examined whether protein kinase A (PKA) is involved in this response. Confocal immunofluorescence labeling on rat epididymis perfused in vivo showed that at luminal acidic pH (6.5), V-ATPase was distributed between short apical microvilli and subapical endosomes. The specific PKA activator N(6)-monobutyryl-3'-5'-cyclic monophosphate (6-MB-cAMP, 1 mM) induced elongation of apical microvilli and accumulation of V-ATPase in these structures. The PKA inhibitor myristoylated-PKI (mPKI, 10 microM) inhibited the apical accumulation of V-ATPase induced by 6-MB-cAMP. Perfusion at pH 6.5 with 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-2-O-methyl-cAMP (8CPT-2-O-Me-cAMP; 10 microM), an activator of the exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac), did not induce V-ATPase apical accumulation. When applied at a higher concentration (100 microM), 8CPT-2-O-Me-cAMP induced V-ATPase apical accumulation, but this effect was completely inhibited by mPKI, suggesting crossover effects on the PKA pathway with this compound at high concentrations. Importantly, the physiologically relevant alkaline pH-induced apical V-ATPase accumulation was completely inhibited by pretreatment with mPKI. We conclude that direct stimulation of PKA activity by cAMP is necessary and sufficient for the alkaline pH-induced accumulation of V-ATPase in clear cell apical microvilli.

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