NHE3 in an ancestral vertebrate: Primary sequence, distribution, localization, and function in gills

Keith P. Choe, Akira Kato, Shigehisa Hirose, Consuelo Plata, Aleksandra Sindić, Michael F. Romero, J. B. Claiborne, David H. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


In mammals, the Na+/H+ exchanger 3 (NHE3) is expressed with Na+/K+-ATPase in renal proximal tubules, where it secretes H+ and absorbs Na+ to maintain blood pH and volume. In elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and stingrays), the gills are the dominant site of pH and osmoregulation. This study was conducted to determine whether epithelial NHE homologs exist in elasmobranchs and, if so, to localize their expression in gills and determine whether their expression is altered by environmental salinity or hypercapnia. Degenerate primers and RT-PCR were used to deduce partial sequences of mammalian NHE2 and NHE3 homologs from the gills of the euryhaline Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina). Real-time PCR was then used to demonstrate that mRNA expression of the NHE3 homolog increased when stingrays were transferred to low salinities but not during hypercapnia. Expression of the NHE2 homolog did not change with either treatment. Rapid amplification of cDNA was then used to deduce the complete sequence of a putative NHE3. The 2,744-base pair cDNA includes a coding region for a 2,511-amino acid protein that is 70% identical to human NHE3 (SLC9A3). Antisera generated against the carboxyl tail of the putative stingray NHE3 labeled the apical membranes of Na+/K+-ATPase-rich epithelial cells, and acclimation to freshwater caused a redistribution of labeling in the gills. This study provides the first NHE3 cloned from an elasmobranch and is the first to demonstrate an increase in gill NHE3 expression during acclimation to low salinities, suggesting that NHE3 can absorb Na+ from ion-poor environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1520-R1534
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 58-5
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Elasmobranch
  • Osmoregulation
  • Sodium/hydrogen exchanger
  • Sodium/potassium adenosinetriphosphatase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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