This paper describes characteristics of the transport of oxalate across the human erythrocyte membrane. Treatment of cells with low concentrations of H2DIDS (4,4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2,2'-disulfonate) inhibits Cl(-)-Cl- and oxalate-oxalate exchange to the same extent, suggesting that band 3 is the major transport pathway for oxalate. The kinetics of oxalate and Cl- self-exchange fluxes indicate that the two ions compete for a common transport site; the apparent Cl- affinity is two to three times higher than that of oxalate. The net exchange of oxalate for Cl-, in either direction, is accompanied by a flux of H+ with oxalate, as is also true of net Cl(-)-SO4(2-) exchange. The transport of oxalate, however, is much faster than that of SO4(2-) or other divalent anions. Oxalate influx into Cl(-)-containing cells has an extracellular pH optimum of approximately 5.5 at 0 degrees C. At extracellular pH below 5.5 (neutral intracellular pH), net Cl(-)-oxalate exchange is nearly as fast as Cl(-)-Cl- exchange. The rapid Cl(-)-oxalate exchange at acid extracellular pH is not likely to be a consequence of Cl- exchange for monovalent oxalate (HOOC-COO-; pKa = 4.2) because monocarboxylates of similar structure exchange for Cl- much more slowly than does oxalate. The activation energy of Cl(-)-oxalate exchange is about 35 kCal/mol at temperatures between 0 and 15 degrees C; the rapid oxalate influx is therefore not a consequence of a low activation energy. The protein phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid has no detectable effect on oxalate self-exchange, in contrast to a recent finding in another laboratory (Baggio, B., L. Bordin, G. Clari, G. Gambaro, and V. Moret. 1993. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1148:157-160.); our data provide no evidence for physiological regulation of anion exchange in red cells.

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