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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2018 Apr;45(4):401-409. doi: 10.1111/1440-1681.12900. Epub 2018 Jan 11.

Fundamental structural and functional properties of Aquaporin ion channels found across the kingdoms of life.

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Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia.


Aquaporin (AQP) channels in the major intrinsic protein (MIP) family are known to facilitate transmembrane water fluxes in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Some classes of AQPs also conduct ions, glycerol, urea, CO2 , nitric oxide, and other small solutes. Ion channel activity has been demonstrated for mammalian AQPs 0, 1, 6, Drosophila Big Brain (BIB), soybean nodulin 26, and rockcress AtPIP2;1. More classes are likely to be discovered. Newly identified blockers are providing essential tools for establishing physiological roles of some of the AQP dual water and ion channels. For example, the arylsulfonamide AqB011 which selectively blocks the central ion pore of mammalian AQP1 has been shown to impair migration of HT29 colon cancer cells. Traditional herbal medicines are sources of selective AQP1 inhibitors that also slow cancer cell migration. The finding that plant AtPIP2;1 expressed in root epidermal cells mediates an ion conductance regulated by calcium and protons provided insight into molecular mechanisms of environmental stress responses. Expression of lens MIP (AQP0) is essential for maintaining the structure, integrity and transparency of the lens, and Drosophila BIB contributes to neurogenic signalling pathways to control the developmental fate of fly neuroblast cells; however, the ion channel roles remain to be defined for MIP and BIB. A broader portfolio of pharmacological agents is needed to investigate diverse AQP ion channel functions in situ. Understanding the dual water and ion channel roles of AQPs could inform the development of novel agents for rational interventions in diverse challenges from agriculture to human health.


Aquaporin; arylsufonamide; cation channel; divalent cation; fluid homeostasis; major intrinsic protein; metastasis; traditional herbal medicine; volume regulation; water channel


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