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J Exp Biol. 2002 Sep;205(Pt 17):2653-63.

Immunolocalisation of aquaporin 3 in the gill and the gastrointestinal tract of the European eel Anguilla anguilla (L.).

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  • 1School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, Scotland.


The expression of a putative water channel protein, aquaporin 3 (AQP-3), has been localised within branchial and intestinal tissues from the 'silver' life stage of the European eel Anguilla anguilla, using a specific polyclonal antibody directed against the C-terminal of the amino acid sequence. Western blots using the AQP-3 antiserum identified the presence of a major immunoreactive protein of 24 kDa in extracts of gills from both freshwater (FW) and 3 week seawater (SW)-acclimated eels. SW acclimation induced a 65 % reduction in AQP-3 protein abundance in the gill extracts. AQP-3 immunoreactivity was apparent throughout the branchial epithelium from both FW and SW-acclimated fish, but especially so within the chloride cells, which also stained heavily with specific antisera for the beta-subunit of the Na, K-ATPase. AQP-3 immunoreactivity not only colocalised with Na, K-ATPase within the basolateral tubular network but also stained the apical regions of the chloride cell where Na, K-ATPase was absent. Although there were no obvious differences in expression between the chloride cells of FW and SW-acclimated fish, considerably higher intensities of immunoreactivity were apparent near the periphery of the non-chloride cells of FW fish, especially within cells forming the base of the primary filaments and the branchial arch. AQP-3 immunoreactivity was also detected in intra-epithelial macrophage-like cells within the intestine of FW and SW-acclimated eels and in the mucous cells of the rectal epithelium of SW-acclimated fish. These results suggest that AQP-3 may play an important functional role in osmoregulation the teleostean gill but is unlikely to be responsible for the increases in intestinal water absorption that occur following SW acclimation.

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