Amiloride-sensitive sodium absorption is different in vertebrates and invertebrates

Katja Sobczak, Anne Willing, Kristina Kusche, Nadine Bangel, Wolf Michael Weber*

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Amiloride-sensitive Na+ absorption is a well-described feature of numerous transporting epithelia in vertebrates. Yet, very little is known about this important physiological process regarding invertebrates. In the present paper, we compare vertebrate Na+ absorption mediated by the amiloride-sensitive epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) and its invertebrate counterpart. We used the dorsal skin of the annelid Hirudo medicinalis as a model for the Na+ absorption of invertebrate epithelia. In applying electrophysiological, molecular, and biochemical techniques we found striking functional and structural differences between vertebrate and invertebrate amiloride-sensitive Na+ absorption. Using modified Ussing chambers, we analyzed the influence of different known blockers and effectors of vertebrate ENaC on leech epithelial Na+ absorption. We demonstrate that the serine protease trypsin had no effect on the Na + transport across leech integument, while it strongly activates vertebrate ENaC. While protons, and the divalent cations Ni2+ and Zn2+ stimulate vertebrate ENaC, amiloride-sensitive Na+ currents in leech integument were substantially reduced. For molecular studies, we constructed a cDNA library of Hirudo medicinalis and screened it with specific ENaC antibodies. We performed numerous PCR approaches using a vast number of different degenerated and specific ENaC primers to identify ENaC-like structures. Yet, both strategies did not reveal any ENaC-like sequence in leech integument. From these data we conclude that amiloride-sensitive Na+ absorption in leech skin is not mediated by an ENaC-like Na+ channel but by a still unknown invertebrate member of the ENaC/DEG family that we termed lENaTP (leech epithelial Na+ transporting protein).

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)R2318-R2327
Publication statusPublished - 06.2007


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