Glucagon is known to affect glomerular filtration rate and renal tubular solute and fluid transport, although it is only thought to act directly on the thick ascending limb (TAL) and collecting duct (CD). Indeed, previous studies have detected glucagon-sensitive adenylate cyclase exclusively in these nephron segments, suggesting the presence of glucagon receptors. In the present study, we have demonstrated for the first time that glucagon receptor mRNA is expressed in the rat proximal tubule, as well as in the TAL and CD. By autoradiography, we have also shown that specific binding of glucagon occurs in both the renal cortex and medulla. In addition, using proximal tubule brush-border membrane (BBM) vesicles for studies of glucose transport, we have established that glucagon stimulates glucose uptake via a facilitative GLUT-mediated transport process (by 58%; P<0.005), whereas cAMP stimulates only the sodium glucose-linked transporter (‘SGLT’)-mediated glucose uptake (by 53%; P<0.05). Taken together, these findings suggest that glucagon could have a role in controlling proximal tubular transport function, including glucose reabsorption, but unlike in the TAL and CD, the proximal tubule glucagon receptor might not be coupled primarily to adenylate cyclase.

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