Ammonia metabolism is a primary component of acid-base homeostasis but is incompletely developed at time of birth. Rh B glycoprotein (Rhbg) and Rh C glycoprotein (Rhcg) are recently recognized ammonia transporter family members expressed in the mammalian kidney. This study's purpose was to establish the expression and localization of Rhbg and Rhcg during kidney development. We examined kidneys from fetal days 16 (E16), 18 (E18), and 20 (E20), and from the first 21 days of postnatal development. Rhbg was expressed initially at E18, with expression only in the connecting tubule (CNT); at E20, Rhbg was expressed in both the CNT and the medullary collecting duct (MCD). In contrast, Rhcg was first expressed at E16 with basal expression in the ureteric bud; at E18, it was expressed in a subset of CNT cells with an apical pattern, followed by apical and basolateral expression in the MCD at E20. In the cortex, Rhbg and Rhcg expression increased in the CNT before expression in the cortical collecting duct during fetal development. In the MCD, both Rhbg and Rhcg expression was initially in cells in the papillary tip, with gradual removal from the tip during the late fetal period and transition during the early neonatal period to an adult pattern with predominant expression in the outer MCD and only rare expression in cells in the initial inner MCD. Double-labeling with intercalated cell-specific markers identified that Rhbg and Rhcg were expressed initially in CNT cells, CNT A-type intercalated cells and non-A, non-B intercalated cells, and in MCD A-type intercalated cells. We conclude that expression of Rhbg and Rhcg parallels intercalated cell development and that immature Rhbg and Rhcg expression at birth contributes to incomplete ammonia excretion capacity.
- Collecting duct
- Connecting tubule