Intercalated cells (IC) respond to pH changes in the blood by increasing or decreasing acid secretion in the kidney collecting duct. Dysfunction of this process results in pathophysiological disorders of different organ systems as the pH of the blood drifts away from its normal value of 7.4. The vacuolar H+ATPase (V-ATPase) is central to the acid/base homeostatic function of IC, but how these cells detect environmental cues that allows them to modify proton secretion appropriately remains a mystery. The existence of an acid or bicarbonate sensor in the kidney has long been suggested, but the identity of this detection system and how such a system would transmit signals to modify the acid/base transporting machinery of ICs remain to be determined. Based on work carried out in the previous funding period, we propose here that the soluble adenylate cyclase (sAC) is the much sought after renal acid/base sensor. This protein generates the second messenger cAMP upon direct stimulation by bicarbonate ions. It is, therefore, ideally suited for a bicarbonate/CO2 sensing role in IC. We hypothesize that cAMP generated by the sAC sensor in response to acid/base cues can modify the acid secretory capacity of intercalated cells. We propose that V-ATPase and sAC are partners in a localized signaling process that modulates targeting and trafficking of the V-ATPase in specific membrane microdomains to regulate intercalated cell function, and renal proton secretion.
Our aims are: 1) To characterize the role of sAC in the regulation of V-ATPase mediated proton secretion by renal epithelial cells and 2) To determine whether V- ATPase and cytoskeletal proteins (actin, gelsolin, drebrin, nadrin and myosin VI) form a local micro-complex that regulates V-ATPase membrane accumulation and proton secretion in IC. The studies will use a multidisciplinary approach including unique animal models, isolated fluorescence-sorted intercalated cells, and cell cultures, as well as imaging technologies including static and real-time confocal microscopy to follow V- ATPase trafficking. Assays of vesicle acidification, ATPase activity and proton-selective self-referencing microelectrodes will monitor the functional expression of V-ATPase in endosomes and at the plasma membrane. Fluorescence (Forsman) resonance energy transfer (FRET) and protein-protein interaction assays will dissect whether V-ATPase subunits interact with sAC and/or cytoskeletal proteins during stimulation of proton secretion. In vitro assays, mutational analysis and phosphoproteomics will address the role of cAMP/PKA mediated V-ATPase phosphorylation in these interactions. We propose that the V-ATPase is a central partner in a localized, multi-protein complex that senses and responds to prevailing acid/base conditions by modulating the V-ATPase dependent acidification mechanism in intercalated cells. Maintaining the acid/base (i.e., pH) level of body fluids, including the blood, within a narrow range is critical to normal health and to the function of all cells and organ systems. The kidney plays a central role in this process by sensing and eliminating excess acid or excess base via excretion into the urine. Currently, the sensing mechanism by which the kidney detects and maintains an appropriate systemic pH balance is poorly understood. The work described here is aimed at proving that a protein called the """"""""soluble adenylate cyclase"""""""" can act as this elusive sensor, and that it signals another protein called a proton pump to remove acid from the body. This work, therefore, sets out to understand the mechanisms underlying a basic physiological function that is necessary for survival. We hope to identify new protein targets for the development of new therapies and strategies to correct acid base imbalances (known as acidosis or alkalosis) in the body.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular and Molecular Biology of the Kidney Study Section (CMBK)
Program Officer
Mullins, Christopher V
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts General Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Christensen, Henriette L; P?unescu, Teodor G; Matchkov, Vladimir et al. (2017) The V-ATPase is expressed in the choroid plexus and mediates cAMP-induced intracellular pH alterations. Physiol Rep 5:
Chen, Ying-Chu; Backus, Keriann M; Merkulova, Maria et al. (2017) Covalent Modulators of the Vacuolar ATPase. J Am Chem Soc 139:639-642
Chen, Lihe; Lee, Jae Wook; Chou, Chung-Lin et al. (2017) Transcriptomes of major renal collecting duct cell types in mouse identified by single-cell RNA-seq. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E9989-E9998
Mumtaz, Rizwan; Trepiccione, Francesco; Hennings, J Christopher et al. (2017) Intercalated Cell Depletion and Vacuolar H+-ATPase Mistargeting in an Ae1 R607H Knockin Model. J Am Soc Nephrol 28:1507-1520
Cotter, Kristina; Liberman, Rachel; Sun-Wada, GeHong et al. (2016) The a3 isoform of subunit a of the vacuolar ATPase localizes to the plasma membrane of invasive breast tumor cells and is overexpressed in human breast cancer. Oncotarget 7:46142-46157
Trepiccione, Francesco; Gerber, Simon D; Grahammer, Florian et al. (2016) Renal Atp6ap2/(Pro)renin Receptor Is Required for Normal Vacuolar H+-ATPase Function but Not for the Renin-Angiotensin System. J Am Soc Nephrol 27:3320-3330
Inoue, Yoshitaka; Yu, Yong-Ming; Kurihara, Tomohiro et al. (2016) Kidney and Liver Injuries After Major Burns in Rats Are Prevented by Resolvin D2. Crit Care Med 44:e241-52
Merkulova, Maria; P?unescu, Teodor G; Azroyan, Anie et al. (2015) Mapping the H(+) (V)-ATPase interactome: identification of proteins involved in trafficking, folding, assembly and phosphorylation. Sci Rep 5:14827
Azroyan, Anie; Cortez-Retamozo, Virna; Bouley, Richard et al. (2015) Renal intercalated cells sense and mediate inflammation via the P2Y14 receptor. PLoS One 10:e0121419
P?unescu, Teodor G; Shum, Winnie W C; Huynh, Chuong et al. (2014) High-resolution helium ion microscopy of epididymal epithelial cells and their interaction with spermatozoa. Mol Hum Reprod 20:929-37

Showing the most recent 10 out of 39 publications