SPAK-mediated NCC regulation in response to low-K+ diet.


The NaCl cotransporter (NCC) of the renal distal convoluted tubule is stimulated by low-K(+) diet by an unknown mechanism. Since recent work has shown that the STE20/SPS-1-related proline-alanine-rich protein kinase (SPAK) can function to stimulate NCC by phosphorylation of specific N-terminal sites, we investigated whether the NCC response to low-K(+) diet is mediated by SPAK. Using phospho-specific antibodies in Western blot and immunolocalization studies of wild-type and SPAK knockout (SPAK(-/-)) mice fed a low-K(+) or control diet for 4 days, we found that low-K(+) diet strongly increased total NCC expression and phosphorylation of NCC. This was associated with an increase in total SPAK expression in cortical homogenates and an increase in phosphorylation of SPAK at the S383 activation site. The increased pNCC in response to low-K(+) diet was blunted but not completely inhibited in SPAK(-/-) mice. These findings reveal that SPAK is an important mediator of the increased NCC activation by phosphorylation that occurs in the distal convoluted tubule in response to a low-K(+) diet, but other low-potassium-activated kinases are likely to be involved.