The Journal of experimental biology

Carbonic anhydrase and acid-base regulation in fish.

PMID 19448075


Carbonic anhydrase (CA) is the zinc metalloenzyme that catalyses the reversible reactions of CO(2) with water. CA plays a crucial role in systemic acid-base regulation in fish by providing acid-base equivalents for exchange with the environment. Unlike air-breathing vertebrates, which frequently utilize alterations of breathing (respiratory compensation) to regulate acid-base status, acid-base balance in fish relies almost entirely upon the direct exchange of acid-base equivalents with the environment (metabolic compensation). The gill is the critical site of metabolic compensation, with the kidney playing a supporting role. At the gill, cytosolic CA catalyses the hydration of CO(2) to H(+) and HCO(3)(-) for export to the water. In the kidney, cytosolic and membrane-bound CA isoforms have been implicated in HCO(3)(-) reabsorption and urine acidification. In this review, the CA isoforms that have been identified to date in fish will be discussed together with their tissue localizations and roles in systemic acid-base regulation.