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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 Nov 1;303(9):F1325-32. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00248.2012. Epub 2012 Aug 22.

Forskolin stimulation promotes urea transporter UT-A1 ubiquitination, endocytosis, and degradation in MDCK cells.

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Department of Medicine, Renal Division, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


The adenylyl cyclase stimulator forskolin (FSK) stimulates UT-A1 phosphorylation, membrane trafficking, and urea transport activity. Here, we found that FSK stimulation induces UT-A1 ubiquitination in UT-A1 Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. This suggests that phosphorylation by FSK also triggers the protein degradation machinery for UT-A1. UT-A1-MDCK cells were treated with 100 μg/ml cycloheximide to inhibit protein synthesis, with or without 10 μM FSK. Total UT-A1 protein abundance was significantly reduced after FSK treatment, concomitantly ubiquitinated UT-A1 was increased. We then specifically investigated the effect of FSK on UT-A1 expressed on the cell plasma membrane. FSK treatment accelerated UT-A1 removal from the cell plasma membrane by increasing UT-A1 endocytosis as judged by biotinylation/MesNa treatment and confocal microscopy. We further found that inhibition of the clathrin-mediated endocytic pathway, but not the caveolin-mediated endocytic pathway, significantly blocks FSK-stimulated UT-A1 endocytosis. The PKA inhibitor H89 and the proteasome inhibitors MG132 and lactacystin reduced FSK-induced membrane UT-A1 reduction. Our study shows that FSK activates the UT-A1 urea transporter and the activation/phosphorylation subsequently triggers the downregulation of UT-A1, which represents an important mechanism for the cell to return to the basal conditions after vasopressin stimulation.

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