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Am J Physiol. 1986 Aug;251(2 Pt 2):F173-87.

Cellular organization of urinary acidification.


The turtle bladder contains transport systems for active sodium absorption, electrogenic proton secretion, and bicarbonate secretion (coupled to chloride absorption) that are functionally separate and occur in specialized epithelial cells. Maneuvers that alter the intracellular acid-base state, such as changes in PCO2, cause marked changes in the apical membrane area of alpha-type carbonic anhydrase (CA) cells by addition or retrieval of membrane vesicles but have no effect on the granular cells that transport sodium. The apical cell membrane of alpha-CA cells contains characteristic rod-shaped intramembrane particles (RSP) by freeze fracture and is coated on its cytoplasmic side with studs. A subpopulation of CA cells (beta-type), which is characterized by apical microvilli, fails to exhibit an apical response to CO2 stimulation and does not reveal RSPs or studs at its apical membranes; instead, these elements can be demonstrated at the basolateral membrane. The reversal in the polarity of these elements as well as physiological evidence suggest that beta-type cells are responsible for bicarbonate secretion. Structure-function studies of CO2 stimulation of H+ secretion by alpha-CA cells indicate that the secretion rate (JH) correlates with apical membrane area and numbers of RSPs. The view that RSPs represent arrays of transmembrane channels and that studs represent catalytic units of H+ pumps is supported by quantitative considerations but remains to be proven. Urinary acidification is regulated not only by changes in the number of H+ pumps but also by the intrinsic properties of the H+ pump itself. For a given pump population, JH is closely controlled by the delta microH across the active transport pathway.

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