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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2012 Dec 1;184(3):223-30. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2012.06.001. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

New insights into the many functions of carbonic anhydrase in fish gills.

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Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5, Canada.


Carbonic anhydrase (CA) is a zinc metalloenzyme that catalyzes the reversible reactions of carbon dioxide and water: CO(2) + H(2)O ↔ H(+) + HCO(3)(-). It has long been recognized that CA is abundant in the fish gill, with attention focused on the role of CA in catalyzing the hydration of CO(2) to provide H(+) and HCO(3)(-) for the branchial ion transport processes that underlie systemic ionic and acid-base regulation. Recent work has explored the diversity of CA isoforms in the fish gill. By linking these isoforms to different cell types in the gill, and by exploiting the diversity of fish species available for study, this work is increasing our understanding of the many roles that CA plays in the fish gill. In particular, recent work has revealed that fish utilize more than one model of CO(2) excretion, that to understand the role of CA and the gill in ionic regulation and acid-base balance means characterizing the transporter and CA complement of individual cell types, and that CA plays roles in branchial sensory mechanisms. The goal of this brief review is to summarize these new developments, while at the same time highlighting key areas in which further research is needed.

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