Intestinal chloride secretion is stimulated during diarrhea. Cholera toxin is secreted by bacte...rium Vibrio cholera and is responsible for the watery diarrhea after cholera infection. Mechanistically, cholera toxin increases intracellular cyclic AMP, which subsequently activates protein kinase A and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator chloride channel (CFTR).
However, we recently identified an intestinal cAMP-Ca cross-talk signaling pathway that is initiated by elevation of intracellular cAMP and subsequently elevates intracellular Ca concentrations through the exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac). This observation suggests that both CFTR and calcium-activated chloride channels are targets of elevated intracellular cAMP signaling molecule.
Therefore, we are studying the role of calcium-activated Cl channels in intestinal chloride secretion under physiological conditions and during diarrhea. We are also determining whether the recently identified transmembrane protein 16 family of proteins, which are calcium-activated chloride channels, is also involved in intestinal chloride secretion in addition to the well characterized CFTR channel.
Increased understanding of regulation of intestinal Cl secretion provides the necessary background information for the development of therapeutic drugs for the treatment of diarrhea, constipation and cystic fibrosis. The discovery that calcium-activated chloride channels are involved in intestinal chloride secretion provides additional targets for anti-diarrhea drug development.view more
Secretory diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countr...ies. While diarrhea can be treated with oral rehydration solution (ORS), inclusion of zinc with oral ORS has been shown to reduce the duration of diarrhea. However, how zinc improves diarrhea is not known.
It has been shown that zinc acts as an intestinal epithelial cell basolateral potassium channel blocker of cyclic AMP-mediated chloride secretion. We discovered that zinc also stimulates intestinal sodium and water absorption via the epithelial Na/H exchanger, NHE3. Zinc reverses the effect of cyclic AMP inhibition of NHE3 activity. The effect of zinc on NHE3 cannot be duplicated with other divalent metal ions. It has been well established that Na/H exchanger regulatory proteins are involved in NHE3 regulation.
Whether these regulatory proteins are involved in zinc stimulation of NHE3 is a focus of our study. Our goal is to reveal mechanisms to explain how zinc improves diarrhea and to understand the role of zinc in salt and water homeostasis in the gut. Our study will provide a scientific basis to justify the inclusion of zinc in ORS for the treatment of secretory diarrhea.view more
Researchers in the Nicholas Zachos Lab work to understand variations in protein trafficking tha...t occur during pathophysiological conditions that cause ion and water transport that result in diarrhea. We recently identified a clathrin-independent endocytic pathway responsible for elevated intracellular calcium-mediated inhibition of NHE3 activity in intestinal epithelial cells. We use advanced imaging techniques, including confocal and multi-photon microscopy, to characterize protein trafficking of intestinal transporters. We also perform functional assays using fluorescent probes (ratiometric and non-ratiometric) to measure ion transport in cell culture models, intact intestinal tissues and human small intestinal enteroids.view more