In the kidney, the renal tubule plays a major role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance. This balance is achieved by an interplay between various hormones and nerves that signal changes throughout the body and transfer these signals to transport proteins. Increased or reduced activity of these transporters helps to restore homeostasis, but can also contribute to disease (e.g. sodium retention in hypertension). In recent years, it has become clear that the signal transfer to transporters is largely mediated by kinases. Among these, WNK kinases (With No lysine. =. K) stand out, because they regulate the major sodium and potassium transporters in the distal nephron. Moreover, mutations in genes encoding WNK kinases result in an inherited form of salt-sensitive hypertension with hyperkalemia, illustrating their important role in sodium, potassium, and blood pressure regulation. More recently, WNK kinases were found to play a role in acquired forms of hypertension as well. Together, the evolving insight in the kinase regulation of ion transport is providing new insights in the longstanding question how salt and blood pressure are related. Here, we review the current models of how WNK kinases regulate the various transport proteins and which roles they play in health and disease.

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Experimental Cell Research: emphasizing molecular approaches to cell biology
Department of Internal Medicine

Hoorn, E.J, & Ellison, D.H. (2012). WNK kinases and the kidney. Experimental Cell Research: emphasizing molecular approaches to cell biology (Vol. 318, pp. 1020–1026). doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.02.029