Background. Familial hyperkalaemia and hypertension (FHH), also termed pseudohypoaldosteronism type II, is a rare monogenic form of hypertension caused by mutations in the WNK1 or WNK4 kinases. In vitro expression of WNK4 reduces surface abundance and activity of coexpressed NaCl cotransporter (NCCT). This effect is lost in disease-producing WNK4 mutants. In two mice models of FHH, one expressing two extra copies of mutant WNK4 (Q562E) and another in which a mutant (D561A) WNK4 replaced wild-type WNK4, renal distal tubule hyperplasia with overexpression of NCCT was found. Currently no FHH human renal tissue is available to test for increased distal tubule surface abundance of NCCT. The availability of a unique large family with FHH and the Q565E WNK4 mutation enabled us to investigate this issue in an indirect manner. Methods. Assuming that shedding of NCCT to the urine reflects its abundance in the distal tubule epithelium, we measured urinary NCCT protein in eight subjects of the FHH family and in eight unrelated controls by western blotting. Results. Urinary NCCT protein was about four times higher in FHH than in controls [111.1 ± 40.5 versus 26.1 ± 16.4 densitometry units (P < 0.0001)]. No significant difference in urinary sodium and potassium concentrations was seen between FHH and controls. Conclusions. The increased urinary NCCT in FHH most probably reflects increased NCCT abundance in the apical membrane of distal tubule cells in patients with FHH and the WNK4 mutation and points to the pathogenetic mechanism for the clinical phenotype of FHH and the WNK4 mutation, supporting results in transgenic mice with the same mutation and in knockin mice with another mutation.
- Familial hyperkalaemia and hypertension
- Na-Cl cotransporter
- Pseudohypoaldosteronism type II
- Urine proteomics
- WNK4 kinase