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J Biol Chem. 1995 Dec 8;270(49):29063-6.

Molecular cloning and characterization of AqpZ, a water channel from Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205-2185, USA.


The aquaporin family of molecular water channels is widely expressed throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. No bacterial aquaporins are known; however, sequence-related bacterial genes have been identified that encode glycerol facilitators (glpF). By homology cloning, a novel aquaporin-related DNA (aqpZ) was identified that contained no surface N-glycosylation consensus. The aqpZ RNA was not identified in mammalian mRNA by Northern analysis and exhibited bacterial codon usage preferences. Southern analysis failed to demonstrate aqpZ in mammalian genomic DNA, whereas a strongly reactive DNA was present in chromosomal DNA from Escherichia coli and other bacterial species and did not correspond to glpF. The aqpZ DNA isolated from E. coli contained a 693-base pair open reading frame encoding a polypeptide 28-38% identical to known aquaporins. When compared with other aquaporins, aqpZ encodes a 10-residue insert preceding exofacial loop C, truncated NH2 and COOH termini, and no cysteines at known mercury-sensitive sites. Expression of aqpZ cRNA conferred Xenopus oocytes with a 15-fold increase in osmotic water permeability, which was maximal after 5 days of expression, was not inhibited with HgCl2, exhibited a low activation energy (Ea = 3.8 kcal/mol), and failed to transport nonionic solutes such as urea and glycerol. In contrast, oocytes expressing glpF transported glycerol but exhibited limited osmotic water permeability. Phylogenetic comparison of aquaporins and homologs revealed a large separation between aqpZ and glpF, consistent with an ancient gene divergence.

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