In the early 80s, renal microperfusion studies led to the identification of a basolateral K+‐Cl− cotransport mechanism in the proximal tubule, thick ascending limb of Henle and collecting duct. More than ten years later, this mechanism was found to be accounted for by three different K+‐Cl− cotransporters (KCC1, KCC3 and KCC4) that are differentially distributed along the renal epithelium. Two of these isoforms (KCC1 and KCC3) were also found to be expressed in arterial walls, the myocardium and a variety of neurons. Subsequently, valuable insights have been gained into the molecular and physiological properties of the KCCs in both the mammalian kidney and cardiovascular system. There is now robust evidence indicating that KCC4 sustains distal renal acidification and that KCC3 regulates myogenic tone in resistance vessels. However, progress in understanding the functional significance of these transporters has been slow, probably on the account that each of the KCC isoforms are not identically distributed among species and that some of them share common subcellular localizations with other KCC isoforms or sizeable conductive Cl− pathways. In addition, the mechanisms underlying the process of K+‐Cl− cotransport are still ill‐defined. The present review focuses on the knowledge gained regarding the roles and properties of KCCs in renal and cardiovascular tissues.
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