Hypercalciuria in inbred genetic hypercalciuric stone-forming (GHS) rats is due, in part, to a decrease in renal tubule Ca reabsorption. Activation of the renal Ca receptor (CaR) may decrease renal tubule Ca reabsorption and cause hypercalciuria through suppression of Ca-sensitive potassium channel activity. Because the rat renal CaR gene is regulated by extracellular calcium and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] and GHS rats have increased renal vitamin D receptor content, the current study was undertaken to determine the level of CaR gene expression in GHS rat kidney and whether CaR gene expression is regulated by 1,25(OH)2D3. Male GHS and normal control (NC) rats were fed a Ca-sufficient diet (0.6% Ca). Western blotting revealed a four-fold increase in CaR protein in GHS rat renal tissue, and 1,25(OH)2D3 administration increased renal CaR in both GHS and NC rats. Northern blot analysis of extracts of renal cortical tissue from GHS and NC rats revealed a major 7-kb transcript of CaR and a more modest 4-kb transcript, both of which were readily detectable. Both Northern blotting and real-time reverse transcription-PCR revealed increased basal CaR mRNA expression levels in GHS rat kidney. 1,25(OH)2D3 administration increased renal CaR mRNA levels 2.0- and 3.3-fold in GHS and NC rats, respectively. Despite the greater incremental increase by 1,25(OH) 2D3 in NC rats, CaR mRNA levels remained higher in GHS rat kidney, and the elevation was more sustained. 1,25(OH)2D3 increased CaR mRNA through both elevated CaR gene expression and prolonged tissue half-life. These results demonstrate that GHS rats have high levels of CaR gene expression and CaR protein that may contribute to the hypercalciuria and calcium nephrolithiasis.
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