Itaru Imaseki, Midori Wakabayashi, Yuichiro Hara, Taro Watanabe, Souichirou Takabe, Keigo Kakumura, Yuki Honda, Keiichi Ueda, Kiyomi Murakumo, Rui Matsumoto, Yosuke Matsumoto, Masaru Nakamura, Wataru Takagi, Shigehiro Kuraku, and Susumu Hyodo
Most of the cartilaginous fishes live principally in seawater (SW) environments, while a limited number of species including the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, inhabit both SW and freshwater (FW) environments during their life cycle. Euryhaline elasmobranchs maintain high internal urea and ion levels even in FW environments, but little is known about the osmoregulatory mechanisms that enable them to maintain internal homeostasis in hypoosmotic environments. In the present study, we focused on the kidney because this is the only organ that can excrete excess water from the body in a hypoosmotic environment. We conducted a transfer experiment of bull sharks from SW to FW and performed differential gene expression analysis between the two conditions using RNA-seq. A search for genes up-regulated in the FW-acclimated bull shark kidney indicated that the expression of the Na+-Cl– cotransporter (NCC; Slc12a3) was ten times higher in the FW-acclimated fish compared to that in SW fish. In the kidney, apically-located NCC was observed in the late distal tubule and in the anterior half of collecting tubule where basolateral Na+/K+-ATPase was also expressed, implying that these segments contribute to NaCl reabsorption from the filtrate for diluting the urine. This expression pattern was not observed in the houndshark, Triakis scyllium, that had been transferred to 30% SW; this species cannot survive in FW environment. The salinity transfer experiment combined with a comprehensive gene screening approach demonstrates that NCC is a key renal protein that contributes to the remarkable euryhaline ability of the bull shark.