WNK kinase is a serine/threonine kinase that plays an important role in electrolyte homeostasis. WNK4 significantly inhibits the surface expression of the sodium chloride co-transporter (NCC) by enhancing the degradation of NCC through a lysosomal pathway, but the mechanisms underlying this trafficking are unknown. Here, we investigated the effect of the lysosomal targeting receptor sortilin on NCC expression and degradation. In Cos-7 cells, we observed that the presence of WNK4 reduced the steady-state amount of NCC by approximately half. Co-transfection with truncated sortilin (a dominant negative mutant) prevented this WNK4-induced reduction in NCC. NCC immunoprecipitated with both wild-type sortilin and, to a lesser extent, truncated sortilin. Immunostaining revealed that WNK4 increased the co-localization of NCC with the lysosomal marker cathepsin D, and NCC co-localized with wild-type sortilin, truncated sortilin, and WNK4 in the perinuclear region. These findings suggest that WNK4 promotes NCC targeting to the lysosome for degradation via a mechanism involving sortilin.
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