Background: Renal phosphate (Pi) reabsorption is regulated by dietary Pi intake, as well as in other ways. Changes in Pi reabsorption are associated with the modulation of sodium/Pi cotransporter type II (NaPi-2) protein abundance in the brush border membrane (BBM) of proximal tubules (PTs) and of renal NaPi-2 mRNA levels. In this study, we address whether the NaPi-2 protein and NaPi-2 mRNA distribution patterns in the renal cortex vary in parallel with changes of dietary Pi intake.
Methods: We investigated in cryosections of perfusion-fixed rat kidneys by in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) the distribution patterns of NaPi-2 mRNA and of NaPi-2 protein one week, two hours, and four hours after changes in dietary Pi intake.
Results: NaPi-2 mRNA and NaPi-2 protein were present in PTs exclusively. In rats adapted to one week of high Pi intake, signals for NaPi-2 mRNA and NaPi-2 protein in cortical PTs were weak, except in the convoluted parts of PTs of juxtamedullary nephrons. After one week of low Pi intake, the ISH and IHC signals for NaPi-2 were high in PT segments in all cortical levels. The switch from a chronic high to a low Pi intake within two and four hours induced no increase and a slight increase, respectively, in the NaPi-2 mRNA signal in PTs of midcortical and of superficial nephrons, whereas in the BBM of these nephrons, NaPi-2 protein was markedly up-regulated. Two and four hours after switching from low to high Pi intake, the overall high ISH signal for NaPi-2 mRNA was unchanged, whereas NaPi-2 protein staining was drastically down-regulated in the BBM of PTs from superficial and midcortical nephrons.
Conclusions: The marked changes in NaPi-2 protein abundance in the BBM, following altered dietary Pi intake, precede corresponding changes at the RNA level by several hours. Thus, the early adaptation to altered Pi intake involves mRNA-independent mechanisms. The up- or down-regulation of NaPi-2 protein abundance in the BBM and NaPi-2 mRNA in PT affects mainly midcortical and superficial nephrons.