Renal Physiology

Expression, localization, and regulation of urea transporter B in rat urothelia

David A. Spector, Qing Yang, Jie Liu, James B. Wade


Although mammalian urothelia are generally considered impermeable to urinary constituents, in vivo studies in several species suggest urothelial transport of water, urea, and solutes under certain conditions. This study investigates the expression, localization, and regulation of urea transporter-B (UT-B) in rat renal pelvis, ureter, and bladder tissues. Immunoblots of homogenates of tissues identified characteristic ∼40- to 55- and ∼32-kDa bands in the ureter, bladder, and renal inner medulla, but not renal cortex. UT-B was localized by immunocytochemistry and was strongly expressed in all cell membranes (and to a limited extent in intracellular vesicles in the cytoplasm) of epithelial cells lining the rat bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis lumens except the apical membrane of the umbrella cells. It was also present in single-layer papillary surface epithelial cells. There was no difference in immunoblot expression of UT-B in the bladder or ureteral homogenates between groups of rats fed high- or low-protein or high- or low-sodium diets. Water restriction resulted in an increase in UT-B expression in ureters (49%, P = 0.001) but not in bladders (14%, P = not significant). The functional role of UT-B in the genitourinary tract epithelia is unknown. UT-B may participate in the regulation of epithelial cell volume and osmolality, in the dissipation of urea gradients, and in possible net urea transport across uroepithelia.

  • Western blot analysis
  • immunocytochemistry
  • urea transport
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