Toll-like receptor 2 mediates inhibition of HCO3- absorption by bacterial lipoprotein in medullary thick ascending limb

David W. Good, Thampi George, Bruns A. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Bacterial infection and sepsis are associated with renal tubule dysfunction and dysregulation of systemic electrolyte balance but the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Recently, we demonstrated that HCO 3- absorption by the medullary thick ascending limb (MTAL) is inhibited by gram-negative bacterial LPS through activation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Here, we examined whether MTAL transport is altered by activation of TLR2, the receptor predominantly responsible for recognizing gram-positive bacteria. Confocal immunofluorescence showed expression of TLR2 in the basolateral membrane domain of rat and mouse MTALs. The functional role of TLR2 was examined in perfused MTALs using Pam3CSK4, a bacterial lipoprotein analog that specifically activates TLR2. Adding Pam 3CSK4 to the bath decreased HCO3- absorption by 25%. The inhibition by Pam3CSK4 was eliminated in MTALs from TLR2-/- mice. HCO3- absorption was also inhibited by the TLR2 agonists lipoteichoic acid and peptidoglycan, two cell wall components of gram-positive bacteria. The MEK/ERK inhibitor U0126 eliminated inhibition of HCO3- absorption by bath LPS but had no effect on inhibition by Pam3CSK4. The inhibition by Pam3CSK4 was eliminated by the protein kinase C inhibitors chelerythrine Cl and bisindolylmaleimide. Moreover, the inhibition by Pam 3CSK4, lipoteichoic acid, and peptidoglycan was additive to inhibition by LPS. Thus, agonists of basolateral TLR2 and TLR4 inhibit HCO3- absorption independently through distinct signaling pathways. We conclude that bacterial components act directly through TLRs to modify the transport function of renal tubules. During polymicrobial sepsis, gram-positive bacterial molecules acting through TLR2 and gram-negative LPS acting through TLR4 can function through parallel signaling pathways to impair MTAL transport. The inhibition of luminal acidification may impair the ability of the kidneys to correct systemic acidosis that contributes to sepsis pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F536-F544
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Acid-base transport
  • Gram-positive bacteria
  • Kidney
  • LPS
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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