Background The familial hyperkalemic hypertension (FHHt) cullin 3 (CUL3) mutant does not degrade WNK kinases normally, thereby leading to thiazide-sensitive Na-Cl cotransporter (NCC) activation. CUL3 mutant (CUL3Δ9) does not bind normally to the COP9 signalosome (CSN), a deneddylase involved in regulating cullin-RING ligases. CUL3Δ9 also caused increased degradation of the CUL3-WNK substrate adaptor kelch-like 3 (KLHL3). Here, we sought to determine how defective CSN action contributes to the CUL3Δ9 phenotype. Methods The Pax8/LC1 mouse system was used to generate mice in which the catalytically active CSN subunit, Jab1, was deleted only along the nephron, after full development (KS-Jab1-/-). Results Western blot analysis demonstrated that Jab1 deletion increased the abundance of neddylated CUL3. Moreover, total CUL3 expression was reduced, suggesting decreased CUL3 stability. KLHL3 was almost completely absent in KS-Jab1-/- mice. Conversely, the protein abundances of WNK1, WNK4, and SPAK kinases were substantially higher. Activation of WNK4, SPAK, and OSR1 was indicated by higher phosphorylated protein levels and translocation of the proteins into puncta, as observed by immunofluorescence. The ratio of phosphorylated NCC to total NCC was also higher. Surprisingly, NCC protein abundance was low, likely contributing to hypokalemia and Na+ and K+ wasting. Additionally, long-term Jab1 deletion resulted in kidney damage. Conclusions Together, the results indicate that deficient CSNbinding contributes importantly to the FHHt phenotype. Although defective CUL3Δ9-faciliated WNK4 degradation likely contributes, dominant effects on KLHL3 may be a second factor that is necessary for the phenotype.
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