dRTA (distal renal tubular acidosis) results from the failure of the a-intercalated cells in the distal tubule of the nephron to acidify the urine. A truncated form of AE1 (anion-exchanger 1; Band 3), kAE1 (kidney isoform of AE1), is located in the basolateral membrane of the intercalated cell. Mutations in the AE1 gene cause autosomal dominant and recessive forms of dRTA. All the dominant dRTA mutations investigated cause aberrant trafficking of kAE1, resulting in its intracellular retention or mistargeting to the apical plasma membrane. Therefore the intracellular retention of hetero-oligomers containing wild-type and dRTA mutants, or the mistargeted protein in the apical membrane neutralizing acid secretion, explains dominant dRTA. The kAE1 (Arg901→stop) mutant has been studied in more detail, since the mistargeting kAE1 (Arg901→stop) from the basolateral to the apical membrane is consistent with the removal of a basolateral localization signal. The C-terminal amino acids deleted by the Arg901→stop mutation, contain a tyrosine motif and a type II PDZ interaction domain. The tyrosine residue (Tyr904), but not the PDZ domain, is critical for basolateral localization. In the absence of the N-terminus of kAE1, the C-terminus was not sufficient to localize kAE1 to the basolateral membrane. This suggests that a determinant within the kAE1 N-terminus co-operates with the C-terminus for kAE1 basolateral localization. Interestingly, Tyr359, in the N-terminal domain, and Tyr904 in the C-terminus of AE1 are phosphorylated in red blood cells. A potential scheme is suggested where successive phosphorylation of these residues is necessary for correct localization and recycling of kAE1 to the basolateral membrane.

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