In order to examine the mechanism of basolateral membrane H+/OH-/HCO-3 transport, a method was developed for the measurement of cell pH in the vivo doubly microperfused rat proximal convoluted tubule. A pH-sensitive fluorescein derivative, (2',7')-bis(carboxyethyl)-(5,6)-carboxyfluorescein, was loaded into cells and relative changes in fluorescence at two excitation wavelengths were followed. Calibration was accomplished using nigericin with high extracellular potassium concentrations. When luminal and peritubular fluids were pH 7.32, cell pH was 7.14 +/- 0.01. Decreasing peritubular pH from 7.32 to 6.63 caused cell pH to decrease from 7.16 +/- 0.02 to 6.90 +/- 0.03. This effect occurred at an initial rate of 2.4 +/- 0.3 pH units/min, and was inhibited by 0.5 mM SITS. Lowering the peritubular sodium concentration from 147 to 25 meq/liter caused cell pH to decrease from 7.20 +/- 0.03 to 6.99 +/- 0.01. The effect of peritubular sodium concentration on cell pH was inhibited by 0.5 mM SITS, but was unaffected by 1 mM amiloride. In addition, when peritubular pH was decreased in the total absence of luminal and peritubular sodium, the rate of cell acidification was 0.2 +/- 0.1 pH units/min, a greater than 90% decrease from that in the presence of sodium. Cell depolarization achieved by increasing the peritubular potassium concentration caused cell pH to increase, an effect that was blocked by peritubular barium or luminal and peritubular sodium removal. Lowering the peritubular chloride concentration from 128 to 0 meq/liter did not affect cell pH. These results suggest the existence of an electrogenic, sodium-coupled H+/OH-/HCO-3 transport mechanism on the basolateral membrane of the rat proximal convoluted tubule.

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