Molecular characterization of the mercurial sensitivity of a frog urea transporter (fUT)

Gavin S. Stewart, Craig P. Smith, Gordon J. Cooper

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    The amphibian urea transporter (fUT) shares many properties with the mammalian urea transporters (UT) derived from UT-A and UT-B genes. The transport of urea by fUT is inhibited by the mercurial agent p- chloromercuribenzenesulfonic acid (pCMBS). We found that in oocytes expressing cRNA encoding fUT, a 5-min preincubation in 0.5 mM mercury chloride (HgCl 2) also significantly reduced urea uptake. The transport of urea by fUT was rendered mercury (Hg2+) insensitive by mutating either of the residues C185 or H187, both of which lie within the M-I region (close to the hypothetical UT pore). In oocytes expressing a mixture of the C185 and H187 mutants, Hg2+ sensitivity was reestablished. The transport of urea by the mouse UTs mUT-A2 and mUT-A3 was not sensitive to Hg2+. Introducing cysteine residues analogous to that mutated in fUT into mUT-A2 or mUT-A3 did not induce Hg2+ sensitivity. Additionally, introducing the double cysteine, histidine mutations into mUT-A2 or mUT-A3 still did not induce Hg2+ sensitivity, indicating that a region outside of the M-I region also contributes to the Hg2+-induced block of fUT. Using a series of chimeras formed between UT-A3 and fUT, we found that as well as C185 and H187, residues within the COOH terminal of fUT determine Hg2+ sensitivity, and we propose that differences in the folding of this region between fUT and mUT-A2/mUT-A3 allow access of Hg2+ to the fUT channel pore. Copyright © 2006 the American Physiological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)F1437-F1442
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


    • Mercury chloride
    • Xenopus laevis oocyte


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