Dependence of KCC2 K-Cl cotransporter activity on a conserved carboxy terminus tyrosine residue.


K-Cl cotransporters (KCC) play fundamental roles in ionic and osmotic homeostasis. To date, four mammalian KCC genes have been identified. KCC2 is expressed exclusively in neurons. Injection of Xenopus oocytes with KCC2 cRNA induced a 20-fold increase in Cl(-)-dependent, furosemide-sensitive K(+) uptake. Oocyte swelling increased KCC2 activity 2-3 fold. A canonical tyrosine phosphorylation site is located in the carboxy termini of KCC2 (R1081-Y1087) and KCC4, but not in other KCC isoforms. Pharmacological studies, however, revealed no regulatory role for phosphorylation of KCC2 tyrosine residues. Replacement of Y1087 with aspartate or arginine dramatically reduced K(+) uptake under isotonic and hypotonic conditions. Normal or near-normal cotransporter activity was observed when Y1087 was mutated to phenylalanine, alanine, or isoleucine. A tyrosine residue equivalent to Y1087 is conserved in all identified KCCs from nematodes to humans. Mutation of the Y1087 congener in KCC1 to aspartate also dramatically inhibited cotransporter activity. Taken together, these results suggest that replacement of Y1087 and its congeners with charged residues disrupts the conformational state of the carboxy terminus. We postulate that the carboxy terminus plays an essential role in maintaining the functional conformation of KCC cotransporters and/or is involved in essential regulatory protein-protein interactions.