Mutations of the solute carrier family 4 member 1 (SLC4A1) gene encoding kidney anion (chloride/bicarbonate ion) exchanger 1 (kAE1) can cause genetic distal renal tubular acidosis (dRTA). Different SLC4A1 mutations give rise to mutant kAE1 proteins with distinct defects in protein trafficking. The mutant kAE1 protein may be retained in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or Golgi apparatus, or mis-targeted to the apical membrane, failing to display its function at the baso-lateral membrane. The ER-retained mutant kAE1 interacts with calnexin chaperone protein; disruption of this interaction permits the mutant kAE1 to reach the cell surface and display anion exchange activity. However, the mechanism of Golgi retention of mutant kAE1 G701D protein, which is otherwise functional, is still unclear. In the present study, we show that Golgi retention of kAE1 G701D is due to a stable interaction with the Golgi-resident protein, coat protein complex I (COPI), that plays a role in retrograde vesicular trafficking and Golgi-based quality control. The interaction and co-localization of kAE1 G701D with the γ-COPI subunit were demonstrated in human embryonic kidney (HEK-293T) cells by co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence staining. Small interference RNA (siRNA) silencing of COPI expression in the transfected HEK-293T cells increased the cell surface expression of transgenic kAE1 G701D, as shown by immunofluorescence staining. Our data unveil the molecular mechanism of Golgi retention of kAE1 G701D and suggest that disruption of the COPI-kAE1 G701D interaction could be a therapeutic strategy to treat dRTA caused by this mutant.

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