Transient receptor potential channels TRPC3 and TRPC6 are expressed in principal cells of the collecting duct (CD) along with the water channel aquaporin-2 (AQP2) both in vivo and in the cultured mouse CD cell line IMCD-3. The channels are primarily localized to intracellular vesicles, but upon stimulation with the antidiuretic hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP), TRPC3 and AQP2 translocate to the apical membrane. In the present study, the effect of various activators and inhibitors of the adenylyl cyclase (AC)/cAMP/PKA signaling cascade on channel trafficking was examined using immunohistochemical techniques and by biotinylation of surface membrane proteins. Both in vivo in rat kidney and in IMCD-3 cells, translocation of AQP2 and TRPC3 (but not TRPC6) was stimulated by [deamino-Cys(1), d-Arg(8)]-vasopressin (dDAVP), a specific V2-receptor agonist, and blocked by [adamantaneacetyl(1), O-Et-d-Tyr(2), Val(4), aminobutyryl(6), Arg(8,9)]-vasopressin (AEAVP), a specific V2-receptor antagonist. In IMCD-3 cells, translocation of TRPC3 and AQP2 was activated by forskolin, a direct activator of AC, or by dibutyryl-cAMP, a membrane-permeable cAMP analog. AVP-, dDAVP-, and forskolin-induced translocation in IMCD-3 cells was blocked by SQ22536 and H89, specific inhibitors of AC and PKA, respectively. Translocation stimulated by dibutyryl-cAMP was unaffected by AEAVP but could be blocked by H89. AVP- and forskolin-induced translocation of TRPC3 in IMCD-3 cells was also blocked by two additional inhibitors of PKA, specifically Rp-cAMPS and the myristoylated inhibitor of PKA (m-PKI). Quantification of TRPC3 membrane insertion in IMCD-3 cells under each assay condition using a surface membrane biotinylation assay, confirmed the translocation results observed by immunofluorescence. Importantly, AVP-induced translocation of TRPC3 as estimated by biotinylation was blocked on average 95.2 +/- 1.0% by H89, Rp-cAMPS, or m-PKI. Taken together, these results demonstrate that AVP stimulation of V2 receptors in principal cells of the CD causes translocation of TRPC3 to the apical membrane via stimulation of the AC/cAMP/PKA signaling cascade.