Mutations in the CLCNKB gene encoding the ClC-Kb Cl− channel cause Bartter syndrome, which is a salt-losing renal tubulopathy. Here, we investigate the functional consequences of seven mutations. When expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, four mutants carried no current (c.736G>C, p.Gly246Arg; c.1271G>A, p.Gly424Glu; c.1313G>A, p.Arg438His; c.1316T>C, p.Leu439Pro), whereas others displayed a 30%–60% reduction in conductance as compared with wild-type ClC-Kb (c.242T>C, p.Leu81Pro; c.274C>T, p.Arg92Trp; c.1052G>C, p.Arg351Pro). Anion selectivity and sensitivity to external Ca2+ and H+, typical of the ClC-Kb channel, were not modified in the partially active mutants. In oocytes, we found that all the mutations reduced surface expression with a profile similar to that observed for currents. In HEK293 cells, the currents in the mutants had similar profiles to those obtained in oocytes, except for p.Leu81Pro, which produced no current. Furthermore, p.Arg92Trp and p.Arg351Pro mutations did not modify the unit-conductance of closely related ClC-K1. Western blot analysis in HEK293 cells showed that ClC-Kb protein abundance was lower for the nonconducting mutants but similar to wild-type for other mutants. Overall, two classes of mutants can be distinguished: nonconducting mutants associated with low total protein expression, and partially conducting mutants with unaltered channel properties and ClC-Kb protein abundance.
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