The electrophysiology of glomerular mesangial cells

James David Stockand, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Glomerular mesangial cells (MC) are renal vascular cells that regulate the surface area of glomerular capillaries and thus, partly control glomerular filtration rate. Clarification of the signal transduction pathways and ionic mechanisms modulating MC tone are critical to understanding the physiology and pathophysiology of these cells, and the integrative role these cells play in fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. The patch clamp technique and an assay of cell concentration were used to electrophysiologically and pharmacologically analyze the ion channels of the plasmalemmal of human glomerular MC maintained in tissue culture. Moreover, the signal transduction pathways modulating channels involved in relaxation were investigated. Three distinct K$\sp+$-selective channels were identified: two low conductance channels (9 and 65pS) maintained MC at rest, while a larger conductance (206pS) K$\sp+$ channel was quiescent at rest. This latter channel was pharmacologically and biophysically similar to the large, Ca$\sp{2+}$-activated K$\sp+$ channel (BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$) identified in smooth muscle. BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ played an essential role in relaxation of MC. In cell-attached patches, the open probability (P$\rm\sb{o}$) of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ increased from a basal level of $<$0.05 to 0.22 in response to AII (100nM)-induced mobilization of cytosolic Ca$\sp{2+}$. Activation in response to contractile signals (membrane depolarization and Ca$\sp{2+}$ mobilization) suggests that BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ acts as a low gain feedback regulator of contraction. Atrial natriuretic factor (ANF; 1.0$\mu$M) and nitroprusside (NP; 0.1mM), via the second messenger, cGMP, increase the feedback gain of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$. In cell-attached patches bathed with physiological saline, these agents transiently activated BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ from a basal $\rm P\sb{o}<0.05$ to peak responses near 0.50. As membrane potential hyperpolarizes towards $\rm E\sb{K}$ (2-3 minutes), BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ inactivates. Upon depolarizing V$\rm\sb{m}$ with 140 mM KCl, db-cGMP (10$\mu$M) activated BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ to a sustained P$\rm\sb{o}$ = 0.51. Addition of AII in the presence of cGMP further increased P$\rm\sb{o}$ to 0.82. Activation of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ by cGMP occured via an endogenous cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG): in excised, inside-out patches, PKG in the presence of Mg-ATP (0.1mM) and cGMP increased P$\rm\sb{o}$ from 0.07 to 0.39. In contrast, neither PKC nor PKA influenced BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$. Endogenous okadaic acid-sensitive protein phosphatase suppressed BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ activity. Binning the change in P$\rm\sb{o}\ (\Delta P\sb{o}$) of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ in response to PKG (n = 69) established two distinct populations of channels: one that responded ($\cong$67%, $\rm\Delta P\sb{o} = 0.45 \pm 0.03$) and one that was unresponsive ($\Delta\rm P\sb{o} = 0.00 \pm 0.01$) to PKG. Activation of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ by PKG resulted from a decrease in the Ca$\sp{2+}$- and voltage-activation thresholds independent of sensitivities. In conclusion, mesangial BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ channels sense both electrical and chemical signals of contraction and act as feedback regulators by repolarizing the plasma membrane. ANF and NO, via cGMP, stimulate endogenous PKG, which subsequently decreases the activation threshold of BK$\rm\sb{Ca}$ to increase the gain of this feedback regulatory signal.

Subject Area

Anatomy & physiology|Animals|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Stockand, James David, "The electrophysiology of glomerular mesangial cells" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9626099.