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Uptake of Na(+) from the environment is an indispensable strategy for the survival of freshwater fish, as they easily lose Na(+) from the plasma to a diluted environment. Nevertheless, the location of and molecules involved in Na(+) uptake remain poorly understood. In this study, we utilized Sodium Green, a Na(+)-dependent fluorescent reagent, to provide direct evidence that Na(+) absorption takes place in a subset of the mitochondria-rich (MR) cells on the yolk sac surface of zebrafish larvae. Combined with immunohistochemistry, we revealed that the Na(+)-absorbing MR cells were exceptionally rich in vacuolar-type H(+)-ATPase (H(+)-ATPase) but moderately rich in Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase. We also addressed the function of foxi3a, a transcription factor that is specifically expressed in the H(+)-ATPase-rich MR cells. When foxi3a was depleted from zebrafish embryos by antisense morpholino oligonucleotide injection, differentiation of the MR cells was completely blocked and Na(+) influx was severely reduced, indicating that MR cells are the primary sites for Na(+) absorption. Additionally, foxi3a expression is initiated at the gastrula stage in the presumptive ectoderm; thus, we propose that foxi3a is a key gene in the control of MR cell differentiation. We also utilized a set of ion transport inhibitors to assess the molecules involved in the process and discuss the observations.


Masahiro Esaki, Kazuyuki Hoshijima, Sayako Kobayashi, Hidekazu Fukuda, Koichi Kawakami, Shigehisa Hirose. Visualization in zebrafish larvae of Na(+) uptake in mitochondria-rich cells whose differentiation is dependent on foxi3a. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. 2007 Jan;292(1):R470-80

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PMID: 16946087

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