SLC26A3 functions as a chloride/bicarbonate anion exchanger expressed in the secretory epithelial cells in the intestine, pancreas, and salivary glands. SLC26A3 has a C-terminal class I PDZ binding motif that assembles regulatory factors or other transporters by anchoring to various PDZ scaffold proteins. NHERF4 is an epithelial-enriched PDZ domain scaffold protein that has attracted attention because of its enriched tissue expression in the intestine and kidney. In this study, we identified SLC26A3 as a novel binding transporter of NHERF4. We investigated the functional role of NHERF4 in the regulation of SLC26A3 by using integrated biochemical and physiological approaches. A direct protein-protein interaction was identified between the PDZ-binding motif of SLC26A3 and the third PDZ domain of NHERF4. Interaction with NHERF4 decreased the level of SLC26A3 expression on the plasma membrane, which led to reduced SLC26A3 anion exchange activity. Notably, interaction with NHERF4 induced rapid internalisation of SLC26A3 from the plasma membrane. The SLC26A3-NHERF4 interaction was modulated by phosphorylation; serine 329 of NHERF4-PDZ3 played a critical role in modulating binding selectivity. Our findings suggest that NHERF4 is a novel modulator of luminal fluidity in the intestine by adjusting SLC26A3 expression and activity through a phosphorylation-dependent mechanism.
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