The NHE family of ion exchangers includes six isoforms (NHE1–NHE6) that function in an electroneutral exchange of intracellular H+ for extracellular Na+. This review focuses on the only ubiquitously expressed isoform, NHE1, which is localized at the plasma membrane where it plays a critical role in intracellular pH (pH) and cell volume homeostasis. All NHE isoforms share a similar topology: an N-terminus of 12 transmembrane (TM) α-helices that collectively function in ion exchange, and a C-terminal cytoplasmic regulatory domain that modulates transport activity by the TM domain. Extracellular signals, mediated by diverse classes of cell-surface receptors, regulate NHE1 activity through distinct signaling networks that converge to directly modify the C-terminal regulatory domain. Modifications in the C-terminus, including phosphorylation and the binding of regulatory proteins, control transport activity by altering the affinity of the TM domain for intracellular H+. Recently, it was determined that NHE1 also functions as a membrane anchor for the actin-based cytoskeleton, independently of its role in ion translocation. Through its effects on pH homeostasis, cell volume, and the actin cortical network, NHE1 regulates a number of cell behaviors, including adhesion, shape determination, migration, and proliferation.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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