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J Biol Chem. 1995 Feb 3;270(5):2203-12.

Regulation of cytoplasmic pH in osteoclasts. Contribution of proton pumps and a proton-selective conductance.

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Division of Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.


Osteoclasts resorb bone by secreting protons into an extracellular resorption zone through vacuolar-type proton pumps located in the ruffled border. The present study was undertaken to evaluate whether proton pumps also contribute to intracellular pH (pHi) regulation. Fluorescence imaging and photometry, and electrophysiological methods were used to characterize the mechanisms of pH regulation in isolated rabbit osteoclasts. The fluorescence of single osteoclasts cultured on glass coverslips and loaded with a pH-sensitive indicator was measured in nominally HCO(3-)-free solutions. When suspended in Na(+)-rich medium, the cells recovered from an acute acid load primarily by means of an amiloride-sensitive Na+/H+ antiporter. However, rapid recovery was also observed in Na(+)-free medium when K+ was used as the substitute. Bafilomycin-sensitive, vacuolar-type pumps were found to contribute marginally to pH regulation and no evidence was found for K+/H+ exchange. In contrast, pHi recovery in high K+ medium was largely attributed to a Zn(2+)-sensitive proton conductive pathway. The properties of this conductance were analyzed by patch-clamping osteoclasts in the whole-cell configuration. Depolarizing pulses induced a slowly developing outward current and a concomitant cytosolic alkalinization. Determination of the reversal potential during ion substitution experiments indicated that the current was due to H+ (equivalent) translocation across the membrane. The H+ current was greatly stimulated by reducing pHi, consistent with a homeostatic role of the conductive pathway during intracellular acidosis. These results suggest that vacuolar-type proton pumps contribute minimally to the recovery of cytoplasmic pH from intracellular acid loads. Instead, the data indicate the presence of a pH- and membrane potential-sensitive H+ conductance in the plasma membrane of osteoclasts. This conductance may contribute to translocation of charges and acid equivalents during bone resorption and/or generation of reactive oxygen intermediates by osteoclasts.

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