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Carbonic anhydrase enzymes (CAs) catalyse the reversible hydration of CO2 to H+ and HCO3- ions. This catalysis is proposed to be harnessed by acid/base transporters, to facilitate their transmembrane flux activity, either through direct protein-protein binding (a 'transport metabolon') or local functional interaction. Flux facilitation has previously been investigated by heterologous co-expression of relevant proteins in host cell lines/oocytes. Here, we examine the influence of intrinsic CA activity on membrane HCO3- or H+ transport via the native acid-extruding proteins, Na+ -HCO3- cotransport (NBC) and Na+ / H+ exchange (NHE), expressed in enzymically isolated mammalian ventricular myocytes. Effects of intracellular and extracellular (exofacial) CA (CAi and CAe) are distinguished using membrane-permeant and -impermeant pharmacological CA inhibitors, while measuring transporter activity in the intact cell using pH and Na+ fluorophores. We find that NBC, but not NHE flux is enhanced by catalytic CA activity, with facilitation being confined to CAi activity alone. Results are quantitatively consistent with a model where CAi catalyses local H+ ion delivery to the NBC protein, assisting the subsequent (uncatalysed) protonation and removal of imported HCO3- ions. In well-superfused myocytes, exofacial CA activity is superfluous, most likely because extracellular CO2/HCO3- buffer is clamped at equilibrium. The CAi insensitivity of NHE flux suggests that, in the native cell, intrinsic mobile buffer-shuttles supply sufficient intracellular H+ ions to this transporter, while intrinsic buffer access to NBC proteins is restricted. Our results demonstrate a selective CA facilitation of acid/base transporters in the ventricular myocyte, implying a specific role for the intracellular enzyme in HCO3- transport, and hence pHi regulation in the heart.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





991 - 1007


Animals, Bicarbonates, Carbonic Anhydrases, Cells, Cultured, Enzyme Activation, Heart Ventricles, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Male, Myocytes, Cardiac, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Sodium, Sodium-Bicarbonate Symporters, Sodium-Hydrogen Exchangers