A pump-independent function of the Na,K-ATPase is required for epithelial junction and tracheal tube-size control

Sarah M. Paul, Michael J. Palladino, Greg J. Beitel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The heterodimeric Na, K-ATPase has been implicated in vertebrate and invertebrate epithelial cell junctions, morphogenesis and oncogenesis, but the mechanisms involved are unclear. We previously showed that the Drosophila Na, K-ATPase is required for septate junction (SJ) formation and that of the three β-subunit loci, only Nrv2 isoforms support epithelial SJ barrier function and tracheal tube-size control. Here we show that Nrv1 is endogenously co-expressed with Nrv2 in the epidermis and tracheal system, but Nrv1 has a basolateral localization and appears to be excluded from the Nrv2-containing SJs. When the normally neuronal Nrv3 is expressed in epithelial cells, it does not associate with SJs. Thus, the β-subunit is a key determinant of Na, K-ATPase subcellular localization as well as function. However, localization of the Na, K-ATPase to SJs is not sufficient for junctional activity because although several Nrv2/Nrv3 chimeric β-subunits localize to SJs, only those containing the extracellular domain of Nrv2 have junctional activity. Junctional activity is also specific to different α-subunit isoforms, with only some isoforms from the major α-subunit locus being able to provide full barrier function and produce normal tracheal tubes. Importantly, mutations predicted to inactivate ATPα catalytic function do not compromise junctional activity, demonstrating that the Drosophila Na, K-ATPase has an ion-pump-independent role in junction formation and tracheal morphogenesis. These results define new functions for the intensively studied Na, K-ATPase. Strikingly, the rat α 1 isoform has full junctional activity and can rescue Atpα-null mutants to viability, suggesting that the Na, K-ATPase has an evolutionarily conserved role in junction formation and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Drosophila
  • Na,K-ATPase, Epithelial junctions
  • Septase junctions
  • Trachea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'A pump-independent function of the Na,K-ATPase is required for epithelial junction and tracheal tube-size control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this