Recent investigations demonstrate increased Na/H exchanger-1 (NHE-1) activity and plasma levels of ouabain-like factor in spontaneously hypertensive rats. At nanomolar concentrations, ouabain increases Na-K-ATPase activity, induces cell proliferation, and activates complex signaling cascades. We hypothesize that the activity of NHE-1 and Na-K-ATPase are interdependent. To test whether treatment with picomolar ouabain regulates Na-K-ATPase through an NHE-1-dependent mechanism, we examined the role of NHE-1 in ouabain-mediated stimulation of Na-K-ATPase in kidney proximal tubule cell lines [opossum kidney (OK), HK-2, HKC-5, and HKC-11] and rat kidney basolateral membranes. Ouabain stimulated Na-K-ATPase activity and tyrosine phosphorylation in cells that express NHE-1 (OK, HKC-5, and HKC-11) but not in HK-2 cells that express very low levels of NHE-1. Inhibition of NHE-1 with 5 μM EIPA, a NHE-1-specific inhibitor, prevented ouabain-mediated stimulation of 86Rb uptake and Na-K-ATPase phosphorylation in OK, HKC-5, and HKC-11 cells. Expression of wild-type NHE-1 in HK2 cells restored regulation of Na-K-ATPase by picomolar ouabain. Treatment with picomolar ouabain increased membrane expression of Na-K-ATPase and enhanced NHE-1-Na-K-ATPase α1-subunit association. Treatment with ouabain (1 μg·kg body wt-1·day -1) increased Na-KATPase activity, expression, phosphorylation, and association with NHE-1 increased in rat kidney cortical basolateral membranes. Eight days' treatment with ouabain (1 μg·kg body wt -1·day-1) resulted in increased blood pressure in these rats. These results suggest that the association of NHE-1 with Na-K-ATPase is critical for ouabain-mediated regulation of Na-K-ATPase and that these effects may play a role in cardioglycoside-stimulated hypertension.
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