Influence of WNK3 on intracellular chloride concentration and volume regulation in HEK293 cells

Pflugers Arch. 2012 Sep;464(3):317-30. doi: 10.1007/s00424-012-1137-4. Epub 2012 Aug 3.


The involvement of WNK3 (with no lysine [K] kinase) in cell volume regulation evoked by anisotonic conditions was investigated in two modified stable lines of HEK293 cells: WNK3+, overexpressing WNK3 and WNK3-KD expressing a kinase inactive by a punctual mutation (D294A) at the catalytic site. This different WNK3 functional expression modified intracellular Cl(-) concentration with the following profile: WNK3+ > control > WNK3-KD cells. Stimulated with 15% hypotonic solutions, WNK3+ cells showed less efficient RVD (13.1%), lower Cl(-) efflux and decreased (94.5%) KCC activity. WNK3-KD cells showed 30.1% more efficient RVD, larger Cl(-) efflux and 5-fold higher KCC activity, increased since the isotonic condition. Volume-sensitive Cl(-) currents were similar in controls, WNK3+ cells, and WNK3-KD cells. Taurine efflux was not evoked at H15%. These results show a WNK3 influence on RVD in HEK293 cells via increasing KCC activity. Hypertonic medium induced cell shrinkage and RVI. In both WNK3+ and WNK3-KD cells, RVI and NKCC activity were increased, in WNK3+ cells presumably by enhanced NKCC phosphorylation, and in WNK3-KD cells via the [Cl(-)](i) reduction induced by the higher KCC activity in characteristic of these cells. These results support the role of WNK3 in modulation of intracellular Cl(-) concentration, in RVD, and indirectly on RVI, via its effects on KCC and NKCC activity. WNK3 in HEK293 cells is expressed as puncta at the intercellular junctions and diffusely at the cytosol, while the inactive kinase was found concentrated at the Golgi area. Cells with inactive WNK3 exhibited a marked change of cell phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Size*
  • Chlorides / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters / metabolism
  • Symporters / metabolism
  • Taurine / metabolism


  • Chlorides
  • Sodium-Potassium-Chloride Symporters
  • Symporters
  • potassium-chloride symporters
  • Taurine
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • WNK3 protein, human