Modulation of Rh glycoproteins, ammonia excretion and Na+ fluxes in three freshwater teleosts when exposed chronically to high environmental ammonia

Amit Kumar Sinha, Hon Jung Liew, C. Michele Nawata, Ronny Blust, Chris M. Wood, Gudrun De Boeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We investigated relationships among branchial unidirectional Na+ fluxes, ammonia excretion, urea excretion, plasma ammonia, plasma cortisol, and gill transporter expression and function in three freshwater fish differing in their sensitivity to high environmental ammonia (HEA). The highly ammonia-sensitive salmonid Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout), the less ammoniasensitive cyprinid Cyprinus carpio (common carp) and the highly ammonia-resistant cyprinid Carassius auratus (goldfish) were exposed chronically (12-168?h) to 1?mmol?l-1 ammonia (as NH4HCO3; pH?7.9). During HEA exposure, carp and goldfish elevated ammonia excretion (JAmm) and Na + influx rates (JNa in ) while trout experienced higher plasma ammonia (TAmm) and were only able to restore control rates of J Amm and JNa in. All three species exhibited increases in Na + efflux rate (JNa out). At the molecular level, there was evidence for activation of a 'Na+/NH4+ exchange metabolon' probably in response to elevated plasma cortisol and TAmm, though surprisingly, some compensatory responses preceded molecular responses in all three species. Expression of Rhbg, Rhcg (Rhcg-a and Rhcg-b), H +-ATPase (V-type, B-subunit) and Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) mRNA was upregulated in goldfish, Rhcg-a and NKA in carp, and Rhcg2, NHE-2 (Na +/H+ exchanger) and H+-ATPase in trout. Branchial H+-ATPase activity was elevated in goldfish and trout, and NKA activity in goldfish and carp, but NKA did not appear to function preferentially as a Na+/NH4+-ATPase in any species. Goldfish alone increased urea excretion rate during HEA, in concert with elevated urea transporter mRNA expression in gills. Overall, goldfish showed more effective compensatory responses towards HEA than carp, while trout were least effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2917-2930
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Common carp
  • Goldfish
  • HEA
  • Na/NH exchange metabolon
  • Rainbow trout
  • Urea excretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science


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