The mammalian kidney excretes its metabolic acid load through the proton-transporting cells, intercalated cells, in the distal nephron and collecting duct. Fish excrete acid through external organs, gill, or skin; however, the cellular function is still controversial. In this study, molecular and electrophysiological approaches were used to identify a novel cell type secreting acid in skin of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae. Among keratinocytes covering the larval surface, novel proton-secreting ionocytes, proton pump (H+-ATPase)-rich cells, were identified to generate strong outward H+ flux. The present work demonstrates for the first time, with a noninvasive technique, H+-secreting cells in an intact animal model, the zebrafish, showing it to be a suitable model in which to study the functions of vertebrate transporting epithelia in vivo.
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