The interaction of Na and H ions with the extracellular and intracellular sites of the Na+/H+ exchanger of the osteosarcoma cell line UMR-106 was investigated. Na ions interact with a single, saturable extracellular transport site. H+ and amiloride appear to compete with Na+ for binding to this site. The apparent affinity for extracellular Na+ (Nao+) and amiloride was independent of intracellular H+ (Hi+), Nai+, or an outwardly directed H+ gradient. The interaction of H+ with the intracellular face of the exchanger had a sigmoidal characteristic with a Hill coefficient of approximately 2. The apparent affinity for Hi+ was independent of Nao+ between 25 and 140 mM. The apparent affinity for Hi+, but not the number of intracellular sites, increased with the increase in the outwardly directed H+ gradient across the membrane. Nai+/Ho+ exchange (reverse mode) is an electroneutral process with a Na+/H+ stoichiometry of 1. The dependence of Nai+/Ho+ exchange on Nai+ was sigmoidal, with a Hill coefficient of 2.16. Nai+ competes with Hi+ for binding to at least the transport site. The apparent affinity for Nai+ decreased with the increase in the outwardly directed H+ gradient. High Ho+ inhibited exchange activity in the reverse mode. We conclude that intracellular Na+ and H+ can activate the exchanger. The exchanger has two separate and asymmetric extracellular and intracellular transport sites. The relative apparent affinities of the internal transport site for Na+ and H+ are determined by the direction and magnitude of the H+ gradient across the membrane. Kinetic characterization of the exchanger suggests that Na+/H+ exchange is compatible with a simultaneous transport model, although a ping-pong transport model could not be excluded.

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