Analysis of patients with inherited hypokalaemic alkalosis resulting from salt–wasting has proved fertile ground for identification of essential elements of renal salt homeostasis and blood–pressure regulation. We now demonstrate linkage of this phenotype to a segment of chromosome 1 containing the gene encoding a renal chloride channel, CLCNKB. Examination of this gene reveals loss–of–function mutations that impair renal chloride reabsorption in the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop. Mutations in seventeen kindreds have been identified, and they include large deletions and nonsense and missense mutations. Some of the deletions are shown to have arisen by unequal crossing over between CLCNKB and the nearby related gene, CLCNKA. Patients who harbour CLCNKB mutations are characterized by hypokalaemic alkalosis with salt–wasting, low blood pressure, normal magnesium and hyper– or normocalciuria; they define a distinct subset of patients with Bartter's syndrome in whom nephrocalcinosis is absent. These findings demonstrate the critical role of CLCNKB in renal salt reabsorption and blood–pressure homeostasis, and demonstrate the potential role of specific CLCNKB antagonists as diuretic antihypertensive agents.
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