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Chloride channel ClC-3 in gills of the euryhaline teleost, Tetraodon nigroviridis: expression, localization and the possible role of chloride absorption
Cheng-Hao Tang, Lie-Yueh Hwang, Tsung-Han Lee


Previous studies have reported the mechanisms of ion absorption and secretion by diverse membrane transport proteins in gills of various teleostean species. To date, however, the chloride channel expressed in the basolateral membrane of mitochondrion-rich (MR) cells for Cl uptake in freshwater (FW) fish is still unknown. In this study, the combination of bioinformatics tools [i.e. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database, Tetraodon nigroviridis (spotted green pufferfish) genome database (Genoscope), BLAT and BLASTn] were used to identify the gene of ClC-3 (TnClC-3), a member of the CLC chloride channel family in the T. nigroviridis genome. RT-PCR analysis revealed that the gene encoding for the ClC-3 protein was widely expressed in diverse tissues (i.e. gill, kidney, intestine, liver and brain) of FW- and seawater (SW)-acclimated pufferfish. In whole-mount double immunofluorescent staining, branchial ClC-3-like immunoreactive protein was localized to the basolateral membrane of Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) immunoreactive cells in both the FW- and SW-acclimated pufferfish. In response to salinity, the levels of transcript of branchial TnClC-3 were similar between FW and SW fish. Moreover, the membrane fraction of ClC-3-like protein in gills was 2.7-fold higher in FW compared with SW pufferfish. To identify whether the expression of branchial ClC-3-like protein specifically responded to lower environmental [Cl], the pufferfish were acclimated to artificial waters either with a normal (control) or lower Cl concentration (low-Cl). Immunoblotting of membrane fractions of gill ClC-3-like protein showed the expression was about 4.3-fold higher in pufferfish acclimated to the low-Cl environment than in the control group. Furthermore, branchial ClC-3-like protein was rapidly elevated in response to acute changes of environmental salinity or [Cl]. Taken together, pufferfish ClC-3-like protein was expressed in the basolateral membrane of gill MR cells, and the protein amounts were stimulated by hyposmotic and low-Cl environments. The enhancement of ClC-3-like protein may trigger the step of basolateral Cl absorption of the epithelium to carry out iono- and osmoregulatory functions of euryhaline pufferfish gills.

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