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Ammonium, stemming from renal ammoniagenesis, is a major urinary proton buffer and is excreted along the collecting duct. This process depends on the concomitant secretion of ammonia by the ammonia channel RhCG and of protons by the vacuolar-type proton-ATPase pump. Thus, urinary ammonium content and urinary acidification are tightly linked. However, mice lacking Rhcg excrete more alkaline urine despite lower urinary ammonium, suggesting an unexpected role of Rhcg in urinary acidification. RhCG and the B1 and B2 proton-ATPase subunits could be co-immunoprecipitated from kidney. In ex vivo microperfused cortical collecting ducts (CCD) proton-ATPase activity was drastically reduced in the absence of Rhcg. Conversely, overexpression of RhCG in HEK293 cells resulted in higher proton secretion rates and increased B1 proton-ATPase mRNA expression. However, in kidneys from Rhcg-/- mice the expression of only B1 and B2 subunits was altered. Immunolocalization of proton-ATPase subunits together with immuno-gold detection of the A proton-ATPase subunit showed similar localization and density of staining in kidneys from Rhcg+/+ and Rhcg-/-mice. In order to test for a reciprocal effect of intercalated cell proton-ATPases on Rhcg activity, we assessed Rhcg and proton-ATPase activities in microperfused CCD from Atp6v1b1-/- mice and showed reduced proton-ATPase activity without altering Rhcg activity. Thus, RhCG and proton-ATPase are located within the same cellular protein complex. RhCG may modulate proton-ATPase function and urinary acidification, whereas proton-ATPase activity does not affect RhCG function. This mechanism may help to coordinate ammonia and proton secretion beyond physicochemical driving forces. Copyright © 2017 International Society of Nephrology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Soline Bourgeois, Lisa Bounoure, Isabelle Mouro-Chanteloup, Yves Colin, Dennis Brown, Carsten A Wagner. The ammonia transporter RhCG modulates urinary acidification by interacting with the vacuolar proton-ATPases in renal intercalated cells. Kidney international. 2018 Feb;93(2):390-402

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PMID: 29054531

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