Erythrocyte K-Cl cotransport: properties and regulation.


Erythrocytes possess a Cl-dependent, Na-independent K transport system cotransporting K and Cl in a 1:1 stoichiometry that is membrane potential independent. This K-Cl cotransporter is stimulated by cell swelling, acidification, Mg depletion, and thiol modification. Cell shrinkage, elevation of cellular divalent ions, thiol alkylation, phosphatase inhibitors, and derivatives of certain loop diuretics and stilbenes are inhibitory. Thus regulation of K-Cl cotransport at the membrane and cytoplasmic levels is highly complex. Basal K-Cl cotransport decreases with cellular maturation, whereas its modes of stimulation and inhibition are variable between species. The physiological inactivation appears to be prevented in low-K animal erythrocytes. In certain human hemoglobinopathies, K-Cl cotransport may be the cause of cellular dehydration and volume decrease. K-Cl cotransport occurs also in nonerythroid cells, such as in epithelial and liver cells of other species. At the threshold of molecular characterization, this comprehensive review places our present understanding of the mechanisms modulating K-Cl cotransport physiologically and pathophysiologically into kinetic and thermodynamic perspectives.