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Pflugers Arch. 1994 Oct;428(5-6):631-40.

pH dependence of K+ conductances of rat cortical collecting duct principal cells.

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Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany.


The K+ channels of the principal cells of rat cortical collecting duct (CCD) are pH sensitive in excised membranes. K+ secretion is decreased with increased H+ secretion during acidosis. We examined whether the pH sensitivity of these K+ channels is present also in the intact cell and thus could explain the coupling between K+ and H+ secretion. Membrane voltages (Vm), whole-cell conductances (gc), and single-channel currents of K+ channels were recorded from freshly isolated CCD cells or isolated CCD segments with the patch-clamp method. Intracellular pH (pHi) was measured using the pH-sensitive fluorescent dye 2'-7'-bis(carboxyethyl)-5-6-carboxyfluorescein (BCECF). Acetate (20 mmol/l) had no effect on Vm, gc, or the activity of the K+ channels in these cells. Acetate, however, acidified pHi slightly by 0.17 +/- 0.04 pH units (n = 19). Vm depolarized by 12 +/- 3 mV (n = 26) and by 23 +/- 2 mV (n = 66) and gc decreased by 26 +/- 5% (n = 13) and by 55 +/- 5% (n = 12) with 3-5 or 8-10% CO2, respectively. The same CO2 concentrations decreased pHi by 0.49 +/- 0.07 (n = 15) and 0.73 +/- 0.11 pH units (n = 12), respectively. Open probability (Po) of all four K+ channels in the intact rat CCD cells was reversibly inhibited by 8-10% CO2. pHi increased with the addition of 20 mmol/l NH4+/NH3 by a maximum of 0.64 +/- 0.08 pH units (n = 33) and acidified transiently by 0.37 +/- 0.05 pH units (n = 33) upon NH4+/NH3 removal. In the presence of NH4+/NH3 Vm depolarized by 16 +/- 2 mV (n = 66) and gc decreased by 26 +/- 7% (n = 16). The activity of all four K+ channels was also strongly inhibited in the presence of NH4+/NH3. The effect of NH4+/NH3 on Vm and gc was markedly increased when the pH of the NH4+/NH3-containing solution was set to 8.5 or 9.2. From these data we conclude that cellular acidification in rat CCD principal cells down-regulates K+ conductances, thus reduces K+ secretion by direct inhibition of K+ channel activity. This pH dependence is present in all four K+ channels of the rat CCD. The inhibition of K+ channels by NH4+/NH3 is independent of changes in pHi and rather involves an effect of NH3.

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