NHA2 promotes cyst development in an in vitro model of polycystic kidney disease

Hari Prasad, Donna K. Dang, Kalyan C. Kondapalli, Niranjana Natarajan, Valeriu Cebotaru, Rajini Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Key points: Significant and selective up-regulation of the Na + /H + exchanger NHA2 (SLC9B2) was observed in cysts of patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Using the MDCK cell model of cystogenesis, it was found that NHA2 increases cyst size. Silencing or pharmacological inhibition of NHA2 inhibits cyst formation in vitro. Polycystin-1 represses NHA2 expression via Ca 2+ /NFAT signalling whereas the dominant negative membrane-anchored C-terminal fragment (PC1-MAT) increased NHA2 levels. Drugs (caffeine, theophylline) and hormones (vasopressin, aldosterone) known to exacerbate cysts elicit NHA2 expression. Taken together, the findings reveal NHA2 as a potential new player in salt and water homeostasis in the kidney and in the pathogenesis of polycystic kidney disease. Abstract: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is caused by mutations in PKD1 and PKD2 encoding polycystin-1 (PC1) and polycystin-2 (PC2), respectively. The molecular pathways linking polycystins to cyst development in ADPKD are still unclear. Intracystic fluid secretion via ion transporters and channels plays a crucial role in cyst expansion in ADPKD. Unexpectedly, we observed significant and selective up-regulation of NHA2, a member of the SLC9B family of Na + /H + exchangers, that correlated with cyst size and disease severity in ADPKD patients. Using three-dimensional cultures of MDCK cells to model cystogenesis in vitro, we showed that ectopic expression of NHA2 is causal to increased cyst size. Induction of PC1 in MDCK cells inhibited NHA2 expression with concordant inhibition of Ca 2+ influx through store-dependent and -independent pathways, whereas reciprocal activation of Ca 2+ influx by the dominant negative membrane-anchored C-terminal tail fragment of PC1 elevated NHA2. We showed that NHA2 is a target of Ca 2+ /NFAT signalling and is transcriptionally induced by methylxanthine drugs such as caffeine and theophylline, which are contraindicated in ADPKD patients. Finally, we observed robust induction of NHA2 by vasopressin, which is physiologically consistent with increased levels of circulating vasopressin and up-regulation of vasopressin V2 receptors in ADPKD. Our findings have mechanistic implications on the emerging use of vasopressin V2 receptor antagonists such as tolvaptan as safe and effective therapy for polycystic kidney disease and reveal a potential new regulator of transepithelial salt and water transport in the kidney.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-519
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019


  • Ca signaling
  • NFAT
  • Na /H exchanger
  • polycystin
  • vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'NHA2 promotes cyst development in an in vitro model of polycystic kidney disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this