Department of Clinical and Translational Sciences and Appalachian Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University, 1600 Medical Center Drive, Huntington, WV 25701, USA. [Email]
Na-K-ATPase on the basolateral membrane provides the favorable transcellular Na gradient for the proper functioning of Na-dependent nutrient co-transporters on the brush border membrane (BBM) of enterocytes. As cells mature from crypts to villus, Na-K-ATPase activity doubles, to accommodate for the increased BBM Na-dependent nutrient absorption. However, the mechanism of increased Na-K-ATPase activity during the maturation of enterocytes is not known. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the mechanisms involved in the functional transition of Na-K-ATPase during the maturation of crypts to villus cells. Na-K-ATPase activity gradually increased as IEC-18 cells matured in vitro from day 0 (crypts) through day 4 (villus) of post-confluence. mRNA abundance and Western blot studies showed no change in the levels of Na-K-ATPase subunits α1 and β1 from 0 to 4 days post-confluent cells. However, Na-K-ATPase α1 phosphorylation levels on serine and tyrosine, but not threonine, residues gradually increased. These data indicate that as enterocytes mature from crypt-like to villus-like in culture, the functional activity of Na-K-ATPase increases secondary to altered affinity of the α1 subunit to extracellular K+, in order to accommodate the functional preference of the intestinal cell type. This altered affinity is likely due to increased phosphorylation of the α1 subunit, specifically at serine and tyrosine residues.