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J Clin Invest. 1998 Oct 15;102(8):1634-40.

Role of gammaENaC subunit in lung liquid clearance and electrolyte balance in newborn mice. Insights into perinatal adaptation and pseudohypoaldosteronism.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7220, USA.


Genetic evidence supports a critical role for the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) in both clearance of fetal lung liquid at birth and total body electrolyte homeostasis. Evidence from heterologous expression systems suggests that expression of the alphaENaC subunit is essential for channel function, whereas residual channel function can be measured in the absence of beta or gamma subunits. We generated mice without gammaENaC (gammaENaC -/-) to test the role of this subunit in neonatal lung liquid clearance and total body electrolyte balance. Relative to controls, gammaENaC (-/-) pups showed low urinary [K+] and high urinary [Na+] and died between 24 and 36 h, probably from hyperkalemia (gammaENaC -/- 18.3 mEq/l, control littermates 9.7 mEq/l). Newborn gammaENaC (-/-) mice cleared lung liquid more slowly than control littermates, but lung water at 12 h (wet/dry = 5.5) was nearly normal (wet/dry = 5.3). This study suggests that gammaENaC facilitates neonatal lung liquid clearance and is critical for renal Na+ and K+ transport, and that low level Na+ transport may be sufficient for perinatal lung liquid absorption but insufficient to maintain electrolyte balance by the distal nephron. The gammaENaC (-/-) newborn exhibits a phenotype that resembles the clinical manifestations of human neonatal PHA1.

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