cAMP Increases Density of ENaC Subunits in the Apical Membrane of MDCK Cells in Direct Proportion to Amiloride-sensitive Na+ Transport
A variety of experimental approaches have shown that AVP and mineralocorticoids stimulate Na+ transport through their effects on the number and kinetic properties of amiloride-sensitive Na+ channels in the apical membrane. The different mechanisms by which AVP and mineralocorticoid act on the Na+ channel provide a basis for synergism in their actions, perhaps by a scheme such as that proposed in Figure 5. However, the details of this interaction will require a better understanding of the molecular details involved in activating quiescent channels, increasing their open probability, and reorientating or inserting channels to an operational position in the apical membrane. Electrophysiological and biochemical approaches have gone a long way toward elucidating some of these molecular details. But the latter approach in particular has indicated that the Na+ channel may have multiple regulatory subunits and thus be a target for several intracellular second messengers and autacoids other than those involved in the actions of AVP and aldosterone. The challenges for future research in this area are multiple. It seems likely that the primary amino acid sequence of the channel subunits will soon become available from cloning and sequencing approaches, but the application of this knowledge to understanding how the subunits are integrated into the complete protein and mediate regulatory signals will be a formidable task. It will be important to determine the normal extracellular signals (other than aldosterone and AVP) and the associated intracellular second messengers that alter channel activity. It will also be important to understand how some species such as the rabbit may "turn off" the stimulatory effect of AVP on Na+ reabsorption in the CCD, and how this regulatory process is altered when these cells are cultured. At the whole animal level, it will also be important to investigate whether changes in one or more of the normal regulatory pathways that impinge on the Na+ channel might be involved in a diminished ability to excrete a salt load, as is observed in some models of hypertension. All of these issues need to be understood at the molecular level, and it seems likely they will provide exciting physiological insights at all levels.