Available evidence indicates that there are two types of Na(+)-H+ exchangers, type A (housekeeping type) and type B (epithelial or apical type), in mammalian cells. We have recently reported, using isolated membrane vesicles, that these two types can be differentiated by their relative sensitivities to inhibition by clonidine and cimetidine [Kulanthaivel, Leibach, Mahesh, Cragoe & Ganapathy (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 264, 1249-1252]. The present study was undertaken to determine whether this approach is also effective in cultured cells. The JAR human placental choriocarcinoma cell line and the opossum kidney (OK) cell line, when grown as confluent monolayer cultures on an impermeable plastic support, express Na(+)-H+ exchanger activity which is measurable by determining Na+ uptake into the cells from the culture medium. The JAR cell Na(+)-H+ exchanger was found to be about 100 times more sensitive to inhibition by dimethylamiloride than the OK cell Na(+)-H+ exchanger. Inhibition studies with clonidine and cimetidine were able to differentiate between these two exchangers very clearly. Cimetidine was 18 times more potent than clonidine in inhibiting the JAR cell Na(+)-H+ exchanger. In contrast, clonidine was at least 8 times more potent than cimetidine in inhibiting the Na(+)-H+ exchanger of the OK cell. The results show that the JAR cell expresses the type A Na(+)-H+ exchanger, whereas the OK cell expresses the type B Na(+)-H+ exchanger. This approach also proved to be very effective in correctly identifying the type of Na(+)-H+ exchanger in a third cell line (HeLa). It is concluded that the relative susceptibility to inhibition by clonidine and cimetidine offers an easy and efficient means of differentiating between the two types of Na(+)-H+ exchangers in cultured cells.

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