Voltage-gated proton channels maintain pH in human neutrophils during phagocytosis
AbstractPhagocytosis of microbial invaders represents a fundamental defense mechanism of the innate immune system. The subsequent killing of microbes is initiated by the respiratory burst, in which nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase generates vast amounts of superoxide anion, precursor to bactericidal reactive oxygen species. Cytoplasmic pH regulation is crucial because NADPH oxidase functions optimally at neutral pH, yet produces enormous quantities of protons. We monitored pHi in individual human neutrophils during phagocytosis of opsonized zymosan, using confocal imaging of the pH sensing dye SNARF-1, enhanced by shifted excitation and emission ratioing, or SEER. Despite long-standing dogma that Na+/H+ antiport regulates pH during the phagocyte respiratory burst, we show here that voltage-gated proton channels are the first transporter to respond. During the initial phagocytotic event, pHi decreased sharply, and recovery required both Na+/H+ antiport and proton current. Inhibiting myeloperoxidase attenuated the acidification, suggesting that diffusion of HOCl into the cytosol comprises a substantial acid load. Inhibiting proton channels with Zn2+ resulted in profound acidification to levels that inhibit NADPH oxidase. The pH changes accompanying phagocytosis in bone marrow phagocytes from HVCN1-deficient mice mirrored those in control mouse cells treated with Zn2+. Both the rate and extent of acidification in HVCN1-deficient cells were twice larger than in control cells. In summary, acid extrusion by proton channels is essential to the production of reactive oxygen species during phagocytosis.