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PLoS One. 2016 Jan 4;11(1):e0142687. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142687. eCollection 2016.

Isoforms of Spectrin and Ankyrin Reflect the Functional Topography of the Mouse Kidney.

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Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States of America.
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States of America.


The kidney displays specialized regions devoted to filtration, selective reabsorption, and electrolyte and metabolite trafficking. The polarized membrane pumps, channels, and transporters responsible for these functions have been exhaustively studied. Less examined are the contributions of spectrin and its adapter ankyrin to this exquisite functional topography, despite their established contributions in other tissues to cellular organization. We have examined in the rodent kidney the expression and distribution of all spectrins and ankyrins by qPCR, Western blotting, immunofluorescent and immuno electron microscopy. Four of the seven spectrins (αΙΙ, βΙ, βΙΙ, and βΙΙΙ) are expressed in the kidney, as are two of the three ankyrins (G and B). The levels and distribution of these proteins vary widely over the nephron. αΙΙ/βΙΙ is the most abundant spectrin, found in glomerular endothelial cells; on the basolateral membrane and cytoplasmic vesicles in proximal tubule cells and in the thick ascending loop of Henle; and less so in the distal nephron. βΙΙΙ spectrin largely replaces βΙΙ spectrin in podocytes, Bowman's capsule, and throughout the distal tubule and collecting ducts. βΙ spectrin is only marginally expressed; its low abundance hinders a reliable determination of its distribution. Ankyrin G is the most abundant ankyrin, found in capillary endothelial cells and all tubular segments. Ankyrin B populates Bowman's capsule, podocytes, the ascending thick loop of Henle, and the distal convoluted tubule. Comparison to the distribution of renal protein 4.1 isoforms and various membrane proteins indicates a complex relationship between the spectrin scaffold, its adapters, and various membrane proteins. While some proteins (e.g. ankyrin B, βΙΙΙ spectrin, and aquaporin 2) tend to share a similar distribution, there is no simple mapping of different spectrins or ankyrins to most membrane proteins. The implications of this data are discussed.

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