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Functional and Developmental Expression of a Zebrafish Kir1.1 (ROMK) homologue Kcnj1

Abbas L, Hajihashemi S, Stead LF, Cooper GJ, Ware TL, Munsey TS, Whitfield TT, White SJ
J Physiol. 2011 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]
The zebrafish, Danio rerio is emerging as an important model organism for the pathophysiological study of a number of some human kidney diseases, but the sites of expression and physiological roles of a number of protein orthologues in the zebrafish nephron remain mostly undefined. Here we show that a zebrafish potassium channel is orthologous to the mammalian kidney potassium channel, ROMK . The cDNA (kcnj1) encodes a protein (Kcnj1) that when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes displayed pH - and Ba2+-sensitive K+-selective currents, but unlike the mammalian channel, was completely insensitive to the peptide inhibitor tertiapin-Q. In the pronephros, kcnj1 transcript expression was restricted to a distal region and overlapped with that of NKCC2, ClC-Ka and Barttin, indicating the location of the diluting segment. In a subpopulation of surface cells, kcnj1 was coexpressed with the a1a.4isoform of the Na+/K+-ATPase identifying these cells as potential K+ secretory cells in this epithelium. At later stages of development, kcnj1 appeared in cells of the developing gill that also expressed the a1a.4subunit. Morpholino antisense-mediated knock down of kcnj1 was accompanied by transient tachycardia followed by bradycardia, effects consistent with alterations in extracellular K+ concentration in the embryo. Our findings indicate that Kcnj1 is expressed in cells associated with osmoregulation and acts as a K+ efflux pathway that is important in maintaining extracellular levels of K+ in the developing embryo.
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