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New milestones have been reached in the field of cation-Cl cotransporters with the recently released cryo-electron microscopy (EM) structures of the (zebrafish) Na-K-2Cl cotransporter (NKCC1) and the human K-Cl cotransporter (hKCC1). In this review we provide a brief timeline that identifies the multiple breakthroughs in the field of solute carrier 12 transporters that led to the structure resolution of two of its key members. While cation-Cl cotransporters share the overall architecture of carriers belonging to the amino acid-polyamine-organocation (APC) superfamily and some of their substrate binding sites, several new insights are gained from the two individual structures. A first major feature relates to the largest extracellular domain between transmembrane domain (TMD) 5 and TMD6 of KCC1, which stabilizes the dimer and forms a cap that likely participates in extracellular gating. A second feature is the conservation of the K and Cl binding sites in both structures and evidence of an unexpected second Cl coordination site in the KCC1 structure. Structural data are discussed in the context of previously published studies that examined the basic and kinetics properties of these cotransport mechanisms. A third characteristic is the evidence of an extracellular gate formed by conserved salt bridges between charged residues located toward the end of TMD3 and TMD4 in both transporters and the existence of an additional neighboring bridge in the hKCC1 structure. A fourth feature of these newly solved structures relates to the multiple points of contacts between the monomer forming the cotransporter homodimer units. These involve the TMDs, the COOH-terminal domains, and the large extracellular loop for hKCC1.
Na-K-2Cl cotransporter-1 (NKCC1) mediates the electroneutral transport of Na, K, and Cl and is normally localized to the basolateral membrane of polarized epithelial cells. We recently reported the first known solute carrier family 12 member 2 ( SLC12A2) mutation (we call NKCC1-DFX) that causes epithelial dysfunction in an undiagnosed disease program case. The heterozygous mutation leads to truncation of the COOH-terminal tail of the cotransporter, resulting in both mutant and wild-type cotransporters being mistrafficked to the apical membrane of polarized epithelial cells. Here we demonstrate by using consecutive truncations and site-directed mutagenesis of the COOH-terminal domain of NKCC1 that truncation of NKCC1 COOH domain uncouples the cotransporter from the lateral membrane. We identify a dileucine motif that, when mutated, leads to cotransporter accumulation in the cytoplasm and mistrafficking to the apical/subapical region of epithelial cells, thereby recapitulating the phenotype observed with the patient mutation. We show that truncation deletion and LL substitution mutants are trafficked out of the endoplasmic reticulum and trans-Golgi network but accumulate in early and late endosomes where they are degraded.
We recently reported the case of a young patient with multisystem failure carrying a de novo mutation in SLC12A2, the gene encoding the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter-1 (NKCC1). Heterologous expression studies in nonepithelial cells failed to demonstrate dominant-negative effects. In this study, we examined expression of the mutant cotransporter in epithelial cells. Using Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells grown on glass coverslips, permeabilized support, and Matrigel, we show that the fluorescently tagged mutant cotransporter is expressed in cytoplasm and at the apical membrane and affects epithelium integrity. Expression of the mutant transporter at the apical membrane also results in the mislocalization of some of the wild-type transporter to the apical membrane. This mistargeting is specific to NKCC1 as the Na-K-ATPase remains localized on the basolateral membrane. To assess transporter localization in vivo, we created a mouse model using CRISPR/cas9 that reproduces the 11 bp deletion in exon 22 of Slc12a2. Although the mice do not display an overt phenotype, we show that the colon and salivary gland expresses wild-type NKCC1 abundantly at the apical pole, confirming the data obtained in cultured epithelial cells. Enough cotransporter must remain, however, on the basolateral membrane to participate in saliva secretion, as no significant decrease in saliva production was observed in the mutant mice.
The choroid plexus epithelium (CPE) secretes higher volumes of fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, CSF) than any other epithelium and simultaneously functions as the blood-CSF barrier to gate immune cell entry into the central nervous system. Posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH), an expansion of the cerebral ventricles due to CSF accumulation following intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), is a common disease usually treated by suboptimal CSF shunting techniques. PHH is classically attributed to primary impairments in CSF reabsorption, but little experimental evidence supports this concept. In contrast, the potential contribution of CSF secretion to PHH has received little attention. In a rat model of PHH, we demonstrate that IVH causes a Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)- and NF-κB-dependent inflammatory response in the CPE that is associated with a ∼3-fold increase in bumetanide-sensitive CSF secretion. IVH-induced hypersecretion of CSF is mediated by TLR4-dependent activation of the Ste20-type stress kinase SPAK, which binds, phosphorylates, and stimulates the NKCC1 co-transporter at the CPE apical membrane. Genetic depletion of TLR4 or SPAK normalizes hyperactive CSF secretion rates and reduces PHH symptoms, as does treatment with drugs that antagonize TLR4-NF-κB signaling or the SPAK-NKCC1 co-transporter complex. These data uncover a previously unrecognized contribution of CSF hypersecretion to the pathogenesis of PHH, demonstrate a new role for TLRs in regulation of the internal brain milieu, and identify a kinase-regulated mechanism of CSF secretion that could be targeted by repurposed US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs to treat hydrocephalus.
This study describes a 13-yr-old girl with orthostatic intolerance, respiratory weakness, multiple endocrine abnormalities, pancreatic insufficiency, and multiorgan failure involving the gut and bladder. Exome sequencing revealed a de novo, loss-of-function allele in , the gene encoding the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter-1. The 11-bp deletion in exon 22 results in frameshift (p.Val1026Phe*2) and truncation of the carboxy-terminal tail of the cotransporter. Preliminary studies in heterologous expression systems demonstrate that the mutation leads to a nonfunctional transporter, which is expressed and trafficked to the plasma membrane alongside wild-type NKCC1. The truncated protein, visible at higher molecular sizes, indicates either enhanced dimerization or misfolded aggregate. No significant dominant-negative effect was observed. K transport experiments performed in fibroblasts from the patient showed reduced total and NKCC1-mediated K influx. The absence of a bumetanide effect on K influx in patient fibroblasts only under hypertonic conditions suggests a deficit in NKCC1 regulation. We propose that disruption in NKCC1 function might affect sensory afferents and/or smooth muscle cells, as their functions depend on NKCC1 creating a Cl gradient across the plasma membrane. This Cl gradient allows the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor or other Cl channels to depolarize the membrane affecting processes such as neurotransmission or cell contraction. Under this hypothesis, disrupted sensory and smooth muscle function in a diverse set of tissues could explain the patient's phenotype.
Proteomics studies have identified Ste20-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress response 1 (OSR1) in exosomes isolated from body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine. Because proteomics studies likely overestimate the number of exosome proteins, we sought to confirm and extend this observation using traditional biochemical and cell biology methods. We utilized HEK293 cells in culture to verify the packaging of these Ste20 kinases in exosomes. Using a series of centrifugation and filtration steps of conditioned culture medium isolated from HEK293 cells, we isolated nanovesicles in the range of 40-100 nm. We show that these small vesicles express the tetraspanin protein CD63 and lack endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi markers, consistent with these being exosomes. We show by Western blot and immunogold analyses that these exosomes express SPAK, OSR1, and Na-K-Cl cotransporter 1 (NKCC1). We show that exosomes are not only secreted by cells, but also accumulated by adjacent cells. Indeed, exposing cultured cells to exosomes produced by other cells expressing a fluorescently labeled kinase resulted in the kinase finding its way into the cytoplasm of these cells, consistent with the idea of exosomes serving as cell-to-cell communication vessels. Similarly, coculturing cells expressing different fluorescently tagged proteins resulted in the exchange of proteins between cells. In addition, we show that both SPAK and OSR1 kinases entering cells through exosomes are preferentially expressed at the plasma membrane and that the kinases in exosomes are functional and maintain NKCC1 in a phosphorylated state.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.
NKCC1 is highly expressed in dorsal root ganglion neurons, where it is involved in gating sensory information. In a recent study, it was shown that peripheral nerve injury results in increased NKCC1 activity, not due to an increase in cotransporter expression, but to increased phosphorylation of the cotransporter (Pieraut, S., Matha, V., Sar, C., Hubert, T., Méchaly, I., Hilaire, C., Mersel, M., Delpire, E., Valmier, J., and Scamps, F. (2007) J. Neurosci. 27, 6751-6759). Our laboratory has also identified two Ste20-like kinases that bind and phosphorylate NKCC1: Ste20-related proline-alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) and oxidative-stress response 1 (OSR1). In this study, we show that both kinases are expressed at similar expression levels in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion neurons, and that both kinases participate equally in the regulation of NKCC1. Using a novel fluorescence method to assay NKCC1 activity in single cells, we show a 50% reduction in NKCC1 activity in DRG neurons isolated from SPAK knockout mice, indicating that another kinase, e.g. OSR1, is present to phosphorylate and activate the cotransporter. Using a nociceptive dorsal root ganglion sensory neuronal cell line, which expresses the same cation-chloride cotransporters and kinases as native DRG neurons, and gene silencing via short hairpin RNA, we demonstrate a direct relationship between kinase expression and cotransporter activity. We show that inactivation of either kinase significantly affects NKCC1 activity, whereas inactivation of both kinases results in an additive effect. In summary, our study demonstrates redundancy of kinases in the regulation of NKCC1 in dorsal root ganglion neurons.
During postnatal development of the central nervous system (CNS), the response of GABA(A) receptors to its agonist undergoes maturation from depolarizing to hyperpolarizing. This switch in polarity is due to the developmental decrease of the intracellular Cl concentration in neurons. Here we show that absence of NKCC1 in P9-P13 CA3 pyramidal neurons, through genetic manipulation or through bumetanide inhibition, results in a significant increase in cell excitability. Furthermore, the pro-convulsant agent 4-aminopyridine induces seizure-like events in NKCC1-null mice but not in wild-type mice. Measurements of muscimol responses in the presence and absence of NKCC1 shows that the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter only marginally affects intracellular Cl(-) in P9-P13 CA3 principal neurons. However, large increases in intracellular Cl(-) are observed in CA3 pyramidal neurons following increased hyperexcitability, indicating that P9-P13 CA3 pyramidal neurons lack robust mechanisms to regulate intracellular Cl(-) during high synaptic activity. This increase in the Cl(-) concentration is network-driven and activity-dependent, as it is blocked by the non-NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist DNQX. We also show that expression of the outward K-Cl cotransporter, KCC2, prevents the development of hyperexcitability, as a reduction of KCC2 expression by half results in increased susceptibility to seizure under control and 4-AP conditions.
Peripheral nerve section promotes regenerative, elongated neuritic growth of adult sensory neurons. Although the role of chloride homeostasis, through the regulation of ionotropic GABA receptors, in the growth status of immature neurons in the CNS begins to emerge, nothing is known of its role in the regenerative growth of injured adult neurons. To analyze the intracellular Cl- variation after a sciatic nerve section in vivo, gramicidin perforated-patch recordings were used to study muscimol-induced currents in mice dorsal root ganglion neurons isolated from control and axotomized neurons. We show that the reversal potential of muscimol-induced current, E(GABA-A), was shifted toward depolarized potentials in axotomized neurons. This was attributable to Cl- influx because removal of extracellular Cl- prevented this shift. Application of bumetanide, an inhibitor of NKCC1 cotransporter and E(GABA-A) recordings in sensory neurons from NKCC1-/- mice, identified NKCC1 as being responsible for the increase in intracellular Cl- in axotomized neurons. In addition, we demonstrate with a phospho-NKCC1 antibody that nerve injury induces an increase in the phosphorylated form of NKCC1 in dorsal root ganglia that could account for intracellular Cl- accumulation. Time-lapse recordings of the neuritic growth of axotomized neurons show a faster growth velocity compared with control. Bumetanide, the intrathecal injection of NKCC1 small interfering RNA, and the use of NKCC1-/- mice demonstrated that NKCC1 is involved in determining the velocity of elongated growth of axotomized neurons. Our results clearly show that NKCC1-induced increase in intracellular chloride concentration is a major event accompanying peripheral nerve regeneration.
GABA excites immature neurons due to their relatively high intracellular chloride concentration. This initial high concentration is commonly attributed to the ubiquitous chloride cotransporter NKCC1, which uses a sodium gradient to accumulate chloride. Here we tested this hypothesis in immature retinal amacrine and ganglion cells. Western blotting detected NKCC1 at birth and its expression first increased, then decreased to the adult level. Immunocytochemistry confirmed this early expression of NKCC1 and localized it to all nuclear layers. In the ganglion cell layer, staining peaked at P4 and then decreased with age, becoming undetectable in adult. In comparison, KCC2, the chloride extruder, steadily increased with age localizing primarily to the synaptic layers. For functional tests, we used calcium imaging with fura-2 and chloride imaging with 6-methoxy-N-ethylquinolinium iodide. If NKCC1 accumulates chloride in ganglion and amacrine cells, deleting or blocking it should abolish the GABA-evoked calcium rise. However, at P0-5 GABA consistently evoked a calcium rise that was not abolished in the NKCC1-null retinas, nor by applying high concentrations of bumetanide (NKCC blocker) for long periods. Furthermore, intracellular chloride concentration in amacrine and ganglion cells of the NKCC1-null retinas was approximately 30 mM, same as in wild type at this age. This concentration was not lowered by applying bumetanide or by decreasing extracellular sodium concentration. Costaining for NKCC1 and cellular markers suggested that at P3, NKCC1 is restricted to Müller cells. We conclude that NKCC1 does not serve to accumulate chloride in immature retinal neurons, but it may enable Müller cells to buffer extracellular chloride.