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pH changes localized to the surface of membrane transport proteins Open Access


Other title
pH regulation
anion exchange
fluorescent proteins
carbonic anhydrase
membrane transport
bicarbonate transport metabolon
nucleoside transport
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Johnson, Danielle Elaine
Supervisor and department
Dr. Joseph Casey, Physiology and Biochemistry
Examining committee member and department
Dr. James Young, Physiology
Dr. Larry Fliegel, Biochemistry
Dr. Todd Alexander, Physiology and Pediatrics
Dr. Gergely Lukacs, McGill University, Department of Physiology
Department of Physiology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Intracellular pH was monitored at the cytosolic surface of plasma membrane solute transporters (Na+/H+/nucleoside co-transporters, or Cl-/HCO3- exchangers), using pH-sensitive fluorescent proteins (FPs), dual emission green FP (deGFP4) and a monomeric red FP Nectarine (mNect), whose development and characterization are also reported here. Human concentrative nucleoside transporter, hCNT3, mediates Na+/H+/nucleoside co-transport. We describe a new approach to monitor H+/uridine co-transport in HEK293 cells. pH changes at the intracellular surface of hCNT3 were monitored by fusing mNect to the cytoplasmic N-terminus of hCNT3 (mNect.hCNT3) or an inactive hCNT3 mutant (mNect.hCNT3-F563C). Cells were incubated at the permissive pH for H+-coupled nucleoside transport, pH 5.5, under both Na+-free and Na+-containing conditions. In mNect.hCNT3-expressing cells (but not under negative control conditions) the rate of acidification increased in media containing 0.5 mM uridine, providing the first direct evidence for H+-coupled uridine transport. At pH 5.5, there was no significant difference in uridine transport rates (coupled H+ flux) in the presence or absence of Na+. This suggests that in acidic Na+-containing conditions, 1 Na+ and 1 H+ are transported/uridine molecule, while in acidic Na+-free conditions, 1 H+ alone is transported/uridine. In acid environments, including renal proximal tubule and intestine, H+/nucleoside co-transport may drive nucleoside accumulation by hCNT3. Microdomains, discrete regions of altered cytosolic solute concentration, are enhanced by rapid solute transport and slow diffusion rates. pH-regulatory membrane transporters, like the Cl-/HCO3- exchanger AE1, could nucleate H+ microdomains, since AE1 has a rapid transport rate and cytosolic H+ diffusion is slow. As AE1 drives Cl-/HCO3- exchange, differences in pH, near and remote from AE1, were monitored simultaneously by deGFP4 fused to AE1 (deGFP4.AE1) and mNect.hCNT3-F563C. deGFP4.AE1-mNect.hCNT3-F563C distance was varied by co-expression of different amounts of the two proteins in HEK293 cells. As the deGFP4.AE1-mNect.hCNT3-F563C distance increased, mNect.hCNT3-F563C detected the cytosolic pH change with a time delay and reduced rate of pH change, compared to deGFP4.AE1. Carbonic anhydrase activity was essential for H+ microdomain formation. H+ diffusion along the plasma membrane was 60-fold slower than to the cytosolic ER-surface. During physiological HCO3- transport, a H+ microdomain 0.3 µm in diameter develops around AE1, which will affect nearby pH-sensitive processes.
License granted by Danielle Johnson ( on 2010-12-20T22:56:32Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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