The Na+/H+ exchanger-3 (NHE3) activity requires ezrin binding to phosphoinositide and its phosphorylation

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Na+/H+ exchanger-3 (NHE3) plays an essential role in maintaining sodium and fluid homeostasis in the intestine and kidney epithelium. Thus, NHE3 is highly regulated and its function depends on binding to multiple regulatory proteins. Ezrin complexed with NHE3 affects its activity via not well-defined mechanisms. This study investigates mechanisms by which ezrin regulates NHE3 activity in epithelial Opossum Kidney cells. Ezrin is activated sequentially by phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) binding and phosphorylation of threonine 567. Expression of ezrin lacking PIP2 binding sites inhibited NHE3 activity (-40%) indicating that ezrin binding to PIP2 is required for preserving NHE3 activity. Expression of a phosphomimetic ezrin mutated at the PIP2 binding region was sufficient not only to reverse NHE3 activity to control levels but also to increase its activity (+80%) similar to that of the expression of ezrin carrying the phosphomimetic mutation alone. Calcineurin Homologous Protein-1 (CHP1) is part, with ezrin, of the NHE3 regulatory complex. CHP1-mediated activation of NHE3 activity was blocked by expression of an ezrin variant that could not be phosphorylated but not by an ezrin variant unable to bind PIP2. Thus, for NHE3 activity under baseline conditions not only ezrin phosphorylation, but also ezrin spatial-temporal targeting on the plasma membrane via PIP2 binding is required; however, phosphorylation of ezrin appears to overcome the control of NHE3 transport. CHP1 action on NHE3 activity is not contingent on ezrin binding to PIP2 but rather on ezrin phosphorylation. These findings are important in understanding the interrelation and dynamics of a CHP1-ezrin-NHE3 regulatory complex.




Babich, V., & DiSole, F. (2015). The Na+/H+ exchanger-3 (NHE3) activity requires ezrin binding to phosphoinositide and its phosphorylation. PLoS ONE, 10(6).

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