Lema I. et al.
Mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) mediates the sodium-retaining action of aldosterone in the distal nephron. Herein, we decipher mechanisms by which hypotonicity increases MR expression in renal principal cells. We identify HuR (human antigen R), an mRNA-stabilizing protein, as an important posttranscriptional regulator of MR expression. Hypotonicity triggers a rapid and reversible nuclear export of HuR in renal KC3AC1 cells, as quantified by high-throughput microscopy. We also identify a key hairpin motif in the 3'-untranslated region of MR transcript, pivotal for the interaction with HuR and its stabilizing function. Next, we show that hypotonicity increases MR recruitment onto Sgk1 promoter, a well-known MR target gene, thereby enhancing aldosterone responsiveness. Our data shed new light on the crucial role of HuR as a stabilizing factor for the MR transcript and provide evidence for a short autoregulatory loop in which expression of a nuclear receptor transcriptionally regulating water and sodium balance is controlled by osmotic tone.