The renal medullary thick ascending limb (MTAL) of the rat absorbs bicarbonate through luminal H+ secretion and basolateral HCO3- transport into the peritubular space. To characterize HCO3- transport, intracellular pH (pHi) was monitored by use of the pH-sensitive fluorescent probe (2',7')-bis-(carboxyethyl)-(5,6)-carboxyfluorescein in fresh suspensions of rat MTAL tubules. When cells were preincubated in HCO3-/CO2-containing solutions and then abruptly diluted into HCO3-/CO2-free media, the pHi response was an initial alkalinization due to CO2 efflux, followed by an acidification (pHi recovery). The pHi recovery required intracellular HCO3-, was inhibited by 10(-4) M diisothiocyanostilbene-2-2'-disulphonic acid (DIDS), and was not dependent on Cl- or Na+. As assessed by use of the cell membrane potential-sensitive fluorescent probe 3,3'-dipropylthiadicarbocyanine, cell depolarization by abrupt Cl- removal from or addition of 2 mM barium into the external medium did not affect HCO3(-)-dependent pHi recovery, and the latter was not associated per se with any change in potential difference, which indicated that HCO3- transport was electroneutral. The HCO3(-)-dependent pHi recovery was inhibited by raising extracellular potassium concentration and by intracellular potassium depletion. Finally, as measured by use of a K(+)-selective extracellular electrode, a component of K+ efflux out of the cells was HCO3- dependent and DIDS sensitive. The results provide evidence for an electroneutral K+/HCO3- cotransport in rat MTAL cells.
F Leviel, P Borensztein, P Houillier, M Paillard, M Bichara