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Research Article

Urea signaling in cultured murine inner medullary collecting duct (mIMCD3) cells involves protein kinase C, inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3), and a putative receptor tyrosine kinase.

D M Cohen, S R Gullans and W W Chin

Division of Nephrology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, 97201, USA.

Published April 15, 1996

Urea, in concentrations unique to the renal medulla, increases transcription and protein expression of several immediate-early genes (IEGs) including the zinc finger-containing transcription factor, Egr-1. In the present study, the proximal 1.2 kb of the murine Egr-1 5' -flanking sequence conferred urea-responsiveness to a heterologous luciferase reporter gene when transiently transfected into renal medullary mIMCD3 cells,and this effect was comparable with that of the extremely potent immediate-early gene inducer, O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA). Urea inducibility of Egr-1 expression was protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent because staurosporine and calphostin C abrogated the urea effect, and down-regulation of PHC through chronic TPa treatment inhibited both urea-inducible Egr-1 protein expression and gene transcription. In addition, hyperosmotic urea increased inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) release from mIMCD3 cells and induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor tyrosine kinase-specific phospholipase C (PLC) isoform, PLC-gamma. Importantly, urea-inducible Egr-1 expression was strongly genistein-sensitive, to a much greater extent than the comparable TPA-inducible Egr-1 expression. These data suggest that urea-inducible Egr-1 expression is a consequence of sequential PLC-gamma activation, IP3 release, and PKC activation. Urea-inducible PLC-gamma activation, in conjunction with the genistein-sensitivity of urea-inducible Egr-1 expression suggest the possibility of a cell surface or cytoplasmic urea-sensing receptor tyrosine kinase.

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