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Opposite temperature effect on transport activity of KCC2/KCC4 and N(K)CCs in HEK-293 cells

Anna-Maria Hartmann1* and Hans Gerd Nothwang12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurogenetics, Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University, Carl von Ossietzky Straße 9-11, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany

2 Research Center Neurosensory Science, University of Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:526  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-526

Published: 9 December 2011



Cation chloride cotransporters play essential roles in many physiological processes such as volume regulation, transepithelial salt transport and setting the intracellular chloride concentration in neurons. They consist mainly of the inward transporters NCC, NKCC1, and NKCC2, and the outward transporters KCC1 to KCC4. To gain insight into regulatory and structure-function relationships, precise determination of their activity is required. Frequently, these analyses are performed in HEK-293 cells. Recently the activity of the inward transporters NKCC1 and NCC was shown to increase with temperature in these cells. However, the temperature effect on KCCs remains largely unknown.


Here, we determined the temperature effect on KCC2 and KCC4 transport activity in HEK-293 cells. Both transporters demonstrated significantly higher transport activity (2.5 fold for KCC2 and 3.3 fold for KCC4) after pre-incubation at room temperature compared to 37°C.


These data identify a reciprocal temperature dependence of cation chloride inward and outward cotransporters in HEK-293 cells. Thus, lower temperature should be used for functional characterization of KCC2 and KCC4 and higher temperatures for N(K)CCs in heterologous mammalian expression systems. Furthermore, if this reciprocal effect also applies to neurons, the action of inhibitory neurotransmitters might be more affected by changes in temperature than previously thought.