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PLoS One. 2009;4(5):e5573. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005573. Epub 2009 May 18.

Involvement of the V2 vasopressin receptor in adaptation to limited water supply.

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  • 1Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biochemistry, Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.


Mammals adapted to a great variety of habitats with different accessibility to water. In addition to changes in kidney morphology, e.g. the length of the loops of Henle, several hormone systems are involved in adaptation to limited water supply, among them the renal-neurohypophysial vasopressin/vasopressin receptor system. Comparison of over 80 mammalian V2 vasopressin receptor (V2R) orthologs revealed high structural and functional conservation of this key component involved in renal water reabsorption. Although many mammalian species have unlimited access to water there is no evidence for complete loss of V2R function indicating an essential role of V2R activity for survival even of those species. In contrast, several marsupial V2R orthologs show a significant increase in basal receptor activity. An increased vasopressin-independent V2R activity can be interpreted as a shift in the set point of the renal-neurohypophysial hormone circuit to realize sufficient water reabsorption already at low hormone levels. As found in other desert mammals arid-adapted marsupials show high urine osmolalities. The gain of basal V2R function in several marsupials may contribute to the increased urine concentration abilities and, therefore, provide an advantage to maintain water and electrolyte homeostasis under limited water supply conditions.

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