Absence of small conductance K+ channel (SK) activity in apical membranes of thick ascending limb and cortical collecting duct in ROMK (Bartter's) knockout mice

Ming Lu, Tong Wang, Qingshang Yan, Xinbo Yang, Ke Dong, Mark A. Knepper, Wenhui Wang, Gerhard Giebisch, Gary E. Shull, Steven C. Hebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


The ROMK (Kirl.1; Kcnjl) gene is believed to encode the apical small conductance K+ channels (SK) of the thick ascending limb (TAL) and cortical collecting duct (CCD). Loss-of-function mutations in the human ROMK gene cause Bartter's syndrome with renal Na+ wasting, consistent with the role of this channel in apical K+ recycling in the TAL that is crucial for NaC1 reabsorption. However, the mechanism of renal K+ wasting and hypokalemia that develop in individuals with ROMK Bartter's syndrome is not apparent given the proposed loss of the collecting duct SK channel. Thus, we generated a colony of ROMK null mice with -25% survival to adulthood that provides a good model for ROMK Bartter's syndrome. The remaining 75% of null mice die in less than 14 days after birth. The surviving ROMK null mice have normal gross renal morphology with no evidence of significant hydronephrosis, whereas non-surviving null mice exhibit marked hydronephrosis. ROMK protein expression was absent in TAL and CCD from null mice but exhibited normal abundance and localization in wild-type littermates. ROMK null mice were polyuric and natriuretic with an elevated hematocrit consistent with mild extracellular volume depletion. SK channel activity in TAL and CCD was assessed by patch clamp analysis in ROMK wild-type ROMK(+/+), heterozygous ROMK(+/-), and null ROMK(-/-) mice. In 313 patches with successful seals from the three ROMK genotypes, SK channel activity in ROMK (+/+ and +/-) exhibited normal single channel kinetics. The expression frequencies are as follows: 67 (TAL) and 58% (CCD) in ROMK(+/+) about half that of the wild-type in ROMK(+/-), being 38 (TAL) and 25% (CCD); absent in both TAL or CCD in ROMK(-/-) between 2 and 5 weeks in 15 mice (61 and 66 patches, respectively). The absence of SK channel activity in ROMK null mice demonstrates that ROMK is essential for functional expression of SK channels in both TAL and CCD. Despite loss of ROMK expression, the normokalemic null mice exhibited significantly increased kaliuresis, indicating alternative mechanisms for K+ absorption/secretion in the nephron.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37881-37887
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - 4 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Absence of small conductance K+ channel (SK) activity in apical membranes of thick ascending limb and cortical collecting duct in ROMK (Bartter's) knockout mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this