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Trends Plant Sci. 1999 Aug;4(8):308-314.

Aquaporins and water homeostasis in plants.

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Dept of Plant Biochemistry, Lund University, PO Box 117, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden.


Aquaporins are water channel proteins of vacuolar and plasma membranes. When opened they facilitate the passive movement of water molecules down a water potential gradient. In Arabidopsis, 30 genes have been found that code for aquaporin homologues. Some of these genes code for highly abundant constitutively expressed proteins and some are known to be temporally and spatially regulated during development and in response to stress. The water transport activity of two aquaporins is regulated at the protein level by phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. At a given time, cells express several different aquaporins, and it is probable that vacuolar and plasma membrane aquaporins acting in concert are responsible for the cytosolic osmoregulation that is necessary for maintaining normal metabolic processes. Inhibition studies of aquaporins in vivo and antisense mutant studies suggest that, in addition to cytosolic osmoregulation, aquaporins are important for the bulk flow of water in plants.

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