Atp6v0a4 knockout mouse is a model of distal renal tubular acidosis with hearing loss, with additional extrarenal phenotype.
Autosomal recessive distal renal tubular acidosis (dRTA) is a severe disorder of acid-base homeostasis, often accompanied by sensorineural deafness. We and others have previously shown that mutations in the tissue-restricted a4 and B1 subunits of the H(+)-ATPase underlie this syndrome. Here, we describe an Atp6v0a4 knockout mouse, which lacks the a4 subunit. Using β-galactosidase as a reporter for the null gene, developmental a4 expression was detected in developing bone, nose, eye, and skin, in addition to that expected in kidney and inner ear. By the time of weaning, Atp6v0a4(-/-) mice demonstrated severe metabolic acidosis, hypokalemia, and early nephrocalcinosis. Null mice were hypocitraturic, but hypercalciuria was absent. They were severely hearing-impaired, as shown by elevated auditory brainstem response thresholds and absent endocochlear potential. They died rapidly unless alkalinized. If they survived weaning with alkali supplementation, treatment could later be withdrawn, but -/- animals remained acidotic with alkaline urine. They also had an impaired sense of smell. Heterozygous animals were biochemically normal until acid-challenged, when they became more acidotic than +/+ animals. This mouse model recapitulates the loss of H(+)-ATPase function seen in human disease and can provide additional insights into dRTA and the physiology of the a4 subunit.