BK-β1 subunit: Immunolocalization in the mammalian connecting tubule and its role in the kaliuretic response to volume expansion

Jennifer L. Pluznick, Peilin Wei, P. Richard Grimm, Steven C. Sansom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Large, Ca2+-activated K+ channels (BK), comprised of α- and β-subunits, mediate K+ secretion during high flow rates in distal nephron segments. Because the BK-β1 subunit enhances Ca2+ sensitivity of BK in a variety of cells, we determined its role in flow-induced K+ secretion and its localization in the mammalian nephron. To determine the role of BK-β1 in the kaliuretic response to volume expansion, the rate of K+ excretion (UKV) vs. varied urinary flow rates were determined in wild-type and BK-β1 knockout mice (BK-β1-/-). When flow rate was varied by volume expansion (2 ml·h-1·25 g body wt-1) for 30 to 60 min in wild-type mice, we found that the UKV increased significantly with increasing urine flow rates (r2 = 0.50, P < 0.00001, n = 31), as demonstrated previously in distal nephron of rats and rabbits. However, in BK-β1-/- mice, UKV did not vary with changing flow rates (r2 = 0.15, P = 0.08, n = 20). Using immunohistochemical techniques, we found that BK-β1 was strongly expressed in the apical membrane of the murine distal nephron and that 98% of BK-β1 protein detected by histochemistry colocalized with NCX, a marker of connecting tubules (CNT). Both BK-β1 and NCX colocalized with BK-α in separate experiments. Furthermore, we confirmed BK-β1 protein expression in the apical membrane of connecting tubules in rabbits. BK-β1 RNA from rabbit CNT was sequenced and was identical to previously published rabbit muscle sequences. These data show that the BK-β1 accessory subunit is present in the CNT segment of the mammalian distal nephron and has a significant role in the kaliuretic response to increased urinary flow induced by volume expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F846-F854
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number4 57-4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Distal nephron
  • Flow-mediated K secretion
  • Maxi K

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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