WNK2 kinase is a novel regulator of essential neuronal cation-chloride cotransporters.
ABSTRACT: NKCC1 and KCC2, related cation-chloride cotransporters (CCC), regulate cell volume and ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurotranmission by modulating the intracellular concentration of chloride [Cl(-)]. These CCCs are oppositely regulated by serine-threonine phosphorylation, which activates NKCC1 but inhibits KCC2. The kinase(s) that performs this function in the nervous system are not known with certainty. WNK1 and WNK4, members of the WNK (with no lysine [K]) kinase family, either directly or via the downstream SPAK/OSR1 Ste20-type kinases, regulate the furosemide-sensitive NKCC2 and the thiazide-sensitive NCC, kidney-specific CCCs. What role the novel WNK2 kinase plays in this regulatory cascade, if any, is unknown. Here, we show that WNK2, unlike other WNKs, is not expressed in kidney; rather, it is a neuron-enriched kinase primarily expressed in neocortical pyramidal cells, thalamic relay cells, and cerebellar granule and Purkinje cells in both the developing and adult brain. Bumetanide-sensitive and Cl(-)-dependent (86)Rb(+) uptake assays in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed that WNK2 promotes Cl(-) accumulation by reciprocally activating NKCC1 and inhibiting KCC2 in a kinase-dependent manner, effectively bypassing normal tonicity requirements for cotransporter regulation. TiO(2) enrichment and tandem mass spectrometry studies demonstrate WNK2 forms a protein complex in the mammalian brain with SPAK, a known phosphoregulator of NKCC1. In this complex, SPAK is phosphorylated at Ser-383, a consensus WNK recognition site. These findings suggest a role for WNK2 in the regulation of CCCs in the mammalian brain, with implications for both cell volume regulation and/or GABAergic signaling.
Project description:The intracellular concentration of chloride ([Cl(-)]i) determines the strength and polarity of GABA neurotransmission. STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) is known as an indirect regulator of [Cl(-)]i for its activation of Na-K-2 Cl(-)co-transporters (NKCC) and inhibition of K-Cl(-)co-transporters (KCC) in many organs. NKCC1 or KCC2 expression changes have been demonstrated previously in the hippocampal neurons of mice with pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (PISE). However, it remains unclear whether SPAK modulates [Cl(-)]i via NKCC1 or KCC2 in the brain. Also, there are no data clearly characterizing SPAK expression in cortical or hippocampal neurons or confirming an association between SPAK and epilepsy. In the present study, we examined SPAK expression and co-expression with NKCC1 and KCC2 in the hippocampal neurons of mice with PISE, and we investigated alterations in SPAK expression in the hippocampus of such mice. Significant increases in SPAK mRNA and protein levels were detected during various stages of PISE in the PISE mice in comparison to levels in age-matched sham (control) and blank treatment (control) mice. SPAK and NKCC1 expression increased in vitro, while KCC2 was down-regulated in hippocampal neurons following hypoxic conditioning. However, SPAK overexpression did not influence the expression levels of NKCC1 or KCC2. Using co-immunoprecipitation, we determined that the intensity of interaction between SPAK and NKCC1 and between SPAK and KCC2 increased markedly after oxygen-deprivation, whereas SPAK overexpression strengthened the relationships. The [Cl(-)]i of hippocampal neurons changed in a corresponding manner under the different conditions. Our data suggests that SPAK is involved in the plasticity of GABA signaling function in acquired epilepsy via adjustment of [Cl(-)]i in hippocampal neurons.
Project description:The role of Cl- as an intracellular signaling ion has been increasingly recognized in recent years. One of the currently best described roles of Cl- in signaling is the modulation of the With-No-Lysine (K) (WNK) - STE20-Proline Alanine rich Kinase (SPAK)/Oxidative Stress Responsive Kinase 1 (OSR1) - Cation-Coupled Cl- Cotransporters (CCCs) cascade. Binding of a Cl- anion to the active site of WNK kinases directly modulates their activity, promoting their inhibition. WNK activation due to Cl- release from the binding site leads to phosphorylation and activation of SPAK/OSR1, which in turn phosphorylate the CCCs. Phosphorylation by WNKs-SPAK/OSR1 of the Na+-driven CCCs (mediating ions influx) promote their activation, whereas that of the K+-driven CCCs (mediating ions efflux) promote their inhibition. This results in net Cl- influx and feedback inhibition of WNK kinases. A wide variety of alterations to this pathway have been recognized as the cause of several human diseases, with manifestations in different systems. The understanding of WNK kinases as Cl- sensitive proteins has allowed us to better understand the mechanistic details of regulatory processes involved in diverse physiological phenomena that are reviewed here. These include cell volume regulation, potassium sensing and intracellular signaling in the renal distal convoluted tubule, and regulation of the neuronal response to the neurotransmitter GABA.
Project description:The pivotal role of KCC2 and NKCC1 in development and maintenance of fast inhibitory neurotransmission and their implication in severe human diseases arouse interest in posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms such as (de)phosphorylation. Staurosporine (broad kinase inhibitor) and N-ethylmalemide (NEM) that modulate kinase and phosphatase activities enhance KCC2 and decrease NKCC1 activity. Here, we investigated the regulatory mechanism for this reciprocal regulation by mass spectrometry and immunoblot analyses using phospho-specific antibodies. Our analyses revealed that application of staurosporine or NEM dephosphorylates Thr1007 of KCC2, and Thr203, Thr207 and Thr212 of NKCC1. Dephosphorylation of Thr1007 of KCC2, and Thr207 and Thr212 of NKCC1 were previously demonstrated to activate KCC2 and to inactivate NKCC1. In addition, application of the two agents resulted in dephosphorylation of the T-loop and S-loop phosphorylation sites Thr233 and Ser373 of SPAK, a critical kinase in the WNK-SPAK/OSR1 signaling module mediating phosphorylation of KCC2 and NKCC1. Taken together, these results suggest that reciprocal regulation of KCC2 and NKCC1 via staurosporine and NEM is based on WNK-SPAK/OSR1 signaling. The key regulatory phospho-site Ser940 of KCC2 is not critically involved in the enhanced activation of KCC2 upon staurosporine and NEM treatment, as both agents have opposite effects on its phosphorylation status. Finally, NEM acts in a tissue-specific manner on Ser940, as shown by comparative analysis in HEK293 cells and immature cultured hippocampal neurons. In summary, our analyses identified phospho-sites that are responsive to staurosporine or NEM application. This provides important information towards a better understanding of the cooperative interactions of different phospho-sites.
Project description:The Na(+):K(+):2Cl(-) cotransporter (NKCC2) is the target of loop diuretics and is mutated in Bartter's syndrome, a heterogeneous autosomal recessive disease that impairs salt reabsorption in the kidney's thick ascending limb (TAL). Despite the importance of this cation/chloride cotransporter (CCC), the mechanisms that underlie its regulation are largely unknown. Here, we show that intracellular chloride depletion in Xenopus laevis oocytes, achieved by either coexpression of the K-Cl cotransporter KCC2 or low-chloride hypotonic stress, activates NKCC2 by promoting the phosphorylation of three highly conserved threonines (96, 101, and 111) in the amino terminus. Elimination of these residues renders NKCC2 unresponsive to reductions of [Cl(-)](i). The chloride-sensitive activation of NKCC2 requires the interaction of two serine-threonine kinases, WNK3 (related to WNK1 and WNK4, genes mutated in a Mendelian form of hypertension) and SPAK (a Ste20-type kinase known to interact with and phosphorylate other CCCs). WNK3 is positioned upstream of SPAK and appears to be the chloride-sensitive kinase. Elimination of WNK3's unique SPAK-binding motif prevents its activation of NKCC2, as does the mutation of threonines 96, 101, and 111. A catalytically inactive WNK3 mutant also completely prevents NKCC2 activation by intracellular chloride depletion. Together these data reveal a chloride-sensing mechanism that regulates NKCC2 and provide insight into how increases in the level of intracellular chloride in TAL cells, as seen in certain pathological states, could drastically impair renal salt reabsorption.
Project description:WNK kinases, including WNK3, and the associated downstream Ste20/SPS1-related proline-alanine-rich protein kinase (SPAK) and oxidative stress responsive 1 (OSR1) kinases, comprise an important signaling cascade that regulates the cation-chloride cotransporters. Ischemia-induced stimulation of the bumetanide-sensitive Na(+)-K(+)-Cl(-) cotransporter (NKCC1) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of experimental stroke, but the mechanism of its regulation in this context is unknown. Here, we investigated the WNK3-SPAK/OSR1 pathway as a regulator of NKCC1 stimulation and their collective role in ischemic brain damage.Wild-type WNK3 and WNK3 knockout mice were subjected to ischemic stroke via transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Infarct volume, brain edema, blood brain barrier damage, white matter demyelination, and neurological deficits were assessed. Total and phosphorylated forms of WNK3 and SPAK/OSR1 were assayed by immunoblotting and immunostaining. In vitro ischemia studies in cultured neurons and immature oligodendrocytes were conducted using the oxygen-glucose deprivation/reoxygenation method.WNK3 knockout mice exhibited significantly decreased infarct volume and axonal demyelination, less cerebral edema, and accelerated neurobehavioral recovery compared with WNK3 wild-type mice subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion. The neuroprotective phenotypes conferred by WNK3 knockout were associated with a decrease in stimulatory hyperphosphorylations of the SPAK/OSR1 catalytic T-loop and of NKCC1 stimulatory sites Thr(203)/Thr(207)/Thr(212), as well as with decreased cell surface expression of NKCC1. Genetic inhibition of WNK3 or small interfering RNA knockdown of SPAK/OSR1 increased the tolerance of cultured primary neurons and oligodendrocytes to in vitro ischemia.These data identify a novel role for the WNK3-SPAK/OSR1-NKCC1 signaling pathway in ischemic neuroglial injury and suggest the WNK3-SPAK/OSR1 kinase pathway as a therapeutic target for neuroprotection after ischemic stroke.
Project description:Wnk kinase maintains cell volume, regulating various transporters such as sodium-chloride cotransporter, potassium-chloride cotransporter, and sodium-potassium-chloride cotransporter 1 (NKCC1) through the phosphorylation of oxidative stress responsive kinase 1 (OSR1) and STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK). However, the activating mechanism of Wnk kinase in specific tissues and specific conditions is broadly unclear. In the present study, we used a human salivary gland (HSG) cell line as a model and showed that Ca(2+) may have a role in regulating Wnk kinase in the HSG cell line. Through this study, we found that the HSG cell line expressed molecules participating in the WNK-OSR1-NKCC pathway, such as Wnk1, Wnk4, OSR1, SPAK, and NKCC1. The HSG cell line showed an intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) increase in response to hypotonic stimulation, and the response was synchronized with the phosphorylation of OSR1. Interestingly, when we inhibited the hypotonically induced [Ca(2+)]i increase with nonspecific Ca(2+) channel blockers such as 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate, gadolinium, and lanthanum, the phosphorylated OSR1 level was also diminished. Moreover, a cyclopiazonic acid-induced passive [Ca(2+)]i elevation was evoked by the phosphorylation of OSR1, and the amount of phosphorylated OSR1 decreased when the cells were treated with BAPTA, a Ca(2+) chelator. Finally, through that process, NKCC1 activity also decreased to maintain the cell volume in the HSG cell line. These results indicate that Ca(2+) may regulate the WNK-OSR1 pathway and NKCC1 activity in the HSG cell line. This is the first demonstration that indicates upstream Ca(2+) regulation of the WNK-OSR1 pathway in intact cells.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Rett Syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental disorder caused mainly by mutations in the gene encoding methyl-CpG-binding protein 2. The relevance of MeCP2 for GABAergic function was previously documented in animal models. In these models, animals show deficits in brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of this disease. Neuronal Cation Chloride Cotransporters (CCCs) play a key role in GABAergic neuronal maturation, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor is implicated in the regulation of CCCs expression during development. Our aim was to analyse the expression of two relevant CCCs, NKCC1 and KCC2, in the cerebrospinal fluid of Rett syndrome patients and compare it with a normal control group.<h4>Methods</h4>The presence of bumetanide sensitive NKCC1 and KCC2 was analysed in cerebrospinal fluid samples from a control pediatric population (1 day to 14 years of life) and from Rett syndrome patients (2 to 19 years of life), by immunoblot analysis.<h4>Results</h4>Both proteins were detected in the cerebrospinal fluid and their levels are higher in the early postnatal period. However, Rett syndrome patients showed significantly reduced levels of KCC2 and KCC2/NKCC1 ratio when compared to the control group.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Reduced KCC2/NKCC1 ratio in the cerebrospinal fluid of Rett Syndrome patients suggests a disturbed process of GABAergic neuronal maturation and open up a new therapeutic perspective.
Project description:The regulation of Cl(-) transport into and out of cells plays a critical role in the maintenance of intracellular volume and the excitability of GABA responsive neurons. The molecular determinants of these seemingly diverse processes are related ion cotransporters: Cl(-) influx is mediated by the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter NKCC1 and Cl(-) efflux via K-Cl cotransporters, KCC1 or KCC2. A Cl(-)/volume-sensitive kinase has been proposed to coordinately regulate these activities via altered phosphorylation of the transporters; phosphorylation activates NKCC1 while inhibiting KCCs, and dephosphorylation has the opposite effects. We show that WNK3, a member of the WNK family of serine-threonine kinases, colocalizes with NKCC1 and KCC1/2 in diverse Cl(-)-transporting epithelia and in neurons expressing ionotropic GABA(A) receptors in the hippocampus, cerebellum, cerebral cortex, and reticular activating system. By expression studies in Xenopus oocytes, we show that kinase-active WNK3 increases Cl(-) influx via NKCC1, and that it inhibits Cl(-) exit through KCC1 and KCC2; kinase-inactive WNK3 has the opposite effects. WNK3's effects are imparted via altered phosphorylation and surface expression of its downstream targets and bypass the normal requirement of altered tonicity for activation of these transporters. Together, these data indicate that WNK3 can modulate the level of intracellular Cl(-) via opposing actions on entry and exit pathways. They suggest that WNK3 is part of the Cl(-)/volume-sensing mechanism necessary for the maintenance of cell volume during osmotic stress and the dynamic modulation of GABA neurotransmission.
Project description:Salt-loading (SL) impairs GABAA inhibition of arginine vasopressin (AVP) neurones in the supraoptic nucleus (SON) of the hypothalamus. Based on previous studies, we hypothesised that SL activates tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB), down-regulating the activity of K+ /Cl- co-transporter2 (KCC2) and up-regulating Na+ /K+ /Cl- co-transporter1 (NKCC1). These changes in chloride transport would result in increased [Cl- ]i in SON AVP neurones. The study combined virally-mediated chloride imaging with ClopHensorN with a single-cell western blot analysis. An adeno-associated virus with ClopHensorN and a vasopressin promoter (AAV2-0VP1-ClopHensorN) was bilaterally injected in the SON of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats that were either euhydrated (Eu) or salt-loaded (SL) for 7 days. Acutely dissociated SON neurones expressing ClopHensorN were tested for decreases or increases in [Cl- ]i in response to focal application of the GABAA agonist muscimol (100 ?mol L-1 ). SON AVP neurones from Eu rats showed muscimol-induced chloride influx (P < 0.05;23/35). SON AVP neurones from SL rats either significantly increased chloride efflux (P < 0.05;27/39) or did not change chloride flux (12/39). The SON AVP neurones that responded to muscimol appeared to be viable and expressed KCC2 and ?-actin. Neurones that did not respond during chloride imaging did not show KCC2 and ?-actin protein expression. The KCC2 antagonist (VU0240551,10 ?mol L-1 ) significantly blocked the chloride influx in cells from Eu rats but did not affect cells from SL rats. A NKCC1 antagonist (bumetanide,10 ?mol L-1 ) significantly blocked the chloride efflux in cells from SL rats but had no effect on cells from Eu rats. Blocking NKCC1 using bumetanide had less of an effect on the muscimol-induced Cl- influx in Eu rat neurones compared to the KCC2 antagonist. The TrkB antagonist (AnA-12) (50 ?mol L-1 ) and protein kinase inhibitor (K252a) (100 nmol L-1 ) each significantly blocked chloride efflux in SON AVP neurones from SL rats. Salt-loading increases [Cl- ]i in SON AVP neurones via a TrKB-KCC2-NKCC1-dependent mechanism in rats.
Project description:Polymorphisms in the gene encoding sterile 20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) associate with hypertension susceptibility in humans. SPAK interacts with WNK kinases to regulate the Na(+)-K(+)-2Cl(-) and Na(+)-Cl(-) co-transporters [collectively, N(K)CC]. Mutations in WNK1/4 and N(K)CC can cause changes in BP and dyskalemia in humans, but the physiologic role of SPAK in vivo is unknown. We generated and analyzed SPAK-null mice by targeting disruption of exons 9 and 10 of SPAK. Compared with SPAK(+/+) littermates, SPAK(+/-) mice exhibited hypotension without significant electrolyte abnormalities, and SPAK(-/-) mice not only exhibited hypotension but also recapitulated Gitelman syndrome with hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, and hypocalciuria. In the kidney tissues of SPAK(-/-) mice, the expression of total and phosphorylated (p-)NCC was markedly decreased, but that of p-OSR1, total NKCC2, and p-NKCC2 was significantly increased. We observed a blunted response to thiazide but normal response to furosemide in SPAK(-/-) mice. In aortic tissues, total NKCC1 expression was increased but p-NKCC1 was decreased in SPAK-deficient mice. Both SPAK(+/-) and SPAK(-/-) mice had impaired responses to the selective ?(1)-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine and the NKCC1 inhibitor bumetanide, suggesting that impaired aortic contractility may contribute to the hypotension of SPAK-null mice. In summary, SPAK-null mice have defects of NCC in the kidneys and NKCC1 in the blood vessels, leading to hypotension through renal salt wasting and vasodilation. SPAK may be a promising target for antihypertensive therapy.