Nonselective cation channels have been found in various parts of the nephron and represent a heterogeneous group of channels. We briefly review their putative physiological function. Renal epithelial nonselective cation channels may play a role in volume regulation, calcium entry, cell proliferation, and sodium reabsorption. In some renal epithelia cGMP seems to be involved in the regulation of nonselective cation channels. Furthermore, there is evidence that a gene related to the cGMP-gated photoreceptor channel, a well-characterized, nonselective cation channel, is also expressed in whole rat kidney tissue. In the context of these observations, we review recent findings from our own work on a nonselective cation channel in the M-1 mouse cortical collecting duct cell line. We could demonstrate that M-1 cells show nonselective cation channel activity in inside-out patches and express a gene related to the cGMP-gated photoreceptor channel (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:10262-10266, 1992). The possibility of a relation between the kidney channel and the photoreceptor channel is discussed.
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