The serine protease, furin, is involved in the activation of a number of proteins most notably epithelial sodium channels (ENaC). The urea transporter UT-A1, located in the kidney inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD), is important for urine concentrating ability. UT-A1's amino acid sequence has a consensus furin cleavage site (RSKR) in the Nterminal region. Despite the putative cleavage site, we find that UT-A1, either from the cytosolic or cell surface pool, is not cleaved by furin in CHO cells. This result was further confirmed by an inability of furin to cleave in vitro an 35Slabeled UT-A1 or the 126 N-terminal UT-A1 fragment. Functionally, mutation of the furin site (R78A, R81A) does not affect UT-A1 urea transport activity. However, deletion of the 81-aa N-terminal portion does not affect UT-A1 cell surface trafficking, but seriously impair UT-A1 urea transport activity. Our results indicate that UT-A1 maturation and activation does not require furin-dependent cleavage. The N-terminal 81-aa fragment is required for proper UT-A1 urea transport activity, but its effect is not through changing UT-A1 membrane trafficking.