Hypomagnesemia is associated with reduced kidney function and life-threatening complications and sustains hypokalemia. The distal convoluted tubule (DCT) determines final urinary Mg2+ excretion and, via activity of the Na+-Cl- cotransporter (NCC), also plays a key role in K+ homeostasis by metering Na+ delivery to distal segments. Little is known about the mechanisms by which plasma Mg2+ concentration regulates NCC activity and how low-plasma Mg2+ concentration and K+ concentration interact to modulate NCC activity. To address this, we performed dietary manipulation studies in mice. Compared with normal diet, abundances of total NCC and phosphorylated NCC (pNCC) were lower after short-term (3 days) or long-term (14 days) dietary Mg2+ restriction. Altered NCC activation is unlikely to play a role, since we also observed lower total NCC abundance in mice lacking the two NCC-activating kinases, STE20/SPS-1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase and oxidative stress response kinase-1, after Mg2+ restriction. The E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase NEDD4-2 regulates NCC abundance during dietary NaCl loading or K+ restriction. Mg2+ restriction did not lower total NCC abundance in inducible nephron-specific neuronal precursor cell developmentally downregulated 4-2 (NEDD4-2) knockout mice. Total NCC and pNCC abundances were similar after short-term Mg2+ or combined Mg2+-K+ restriction but were dramatically lower compared with a low-K+ diet. Therefore, sustained NCC downregulation may serve a mechanism that enhances distal Na+ delivery during states of hypomagnesemia, maintaining hypokalemia. Similar results were obtained with long-term Mg2+-K+ restriction, but, surprisingly, NCC was not activated after long-term K+ restriction despite lower plasma K+ concentration, suggesting significant differences in distal tubule adaptation to acute or chronic K+ restriction.
Keywords: Na+-Cl− cotransporter; magnesium; potassium; transport.