integral membrane proteins from a larger family of major intrinsic proteins(MIP) that form pores in the membrane of biological cells.cite journal | author = Agre P | title = The aquaporin water channels | journal = Proc Am Thorac Soc | volume = 3 | issue = 1 | pages = 5–13 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16493146 | doi = 10.1513/pats.200510-109JH ]
Genetic defects involving aquaporin
genes have been associated with several human diseases.cite journal | author = Agre P, Kozono D | title = Aquaporin water channels: molecular mechanisms for human diseases | journal = FEBS Lett. | volume = 555 | issue = 1 | pages = 72–8 | year = 2003 | pmid = 14630322 | doi = 10.1016/S0014-5793(03)01083-4 ] cite journal | author = Schrier RW | title = Aquaporin-related disorders of water homeostasis | journal = Drug News Perspect. | volume = 20 | issue = 7 | pages = 447–53 | year = 2007 | pmid = 17992267 | doi = 10.1358/dnp.2007.20.7.1138161 ] The 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistrywas awarded to Peter Agrefor the discovery of aquaporinscite journal | author = Knepper MA, Nielsen S | title = Peter Agre, 2003 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry | journal = J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. | volume = 15 | issue = 4 | pages = 1093–5 | year = 2004 | pmid = 15034115 | doi = 10.1097/01.ASN.0000118814.47663.7D ] and jointly to Roderick MacKinnonfor his work on the structure and mechanism of potassium channels.cite web | url= http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2003/press.html | title= The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2003 | accessdate= 2008-01-23 | publisher= Nobel Foundation ]
Aquaporins selectively conduct
water molecules in and out of the cell, while preventing the passage of ions and other solutes. Also known as water channels, aquaporins are membrane pore proteins. Some of them, known as aquaglyceroporins, transport also other small uncharged solutes, such as glycerol, CO2, ammonia and urea across the membrane, depending on the size of the pore. However, the water pores are completely impermeable to charged species, such as protons, a property critical for the conservation of the membrane's electrochemical potential.cite journal | author = Gonen T, Walz T | title = The structure of aquaporins | journal = Q. Rev. Biophys. | volume = 39 | issue = 4 | pages = 361–96 | year = 2006 | pmid = 17156589 | doi = 10.1017/S0033583506004458 ]
Water molecules traverse through the pore of the channel in single file. The presence of water channels increases membrane permeability to water.
Many human cell types express them, as do certain bacteria and many other
organisms, such as plants for which it is essential for the water transport system.cite journal | author = Kruse E, Uehlein N, Kaldenhoff R | title = The aquaporins | journal = Genome Biol. | volume = 7 | issue = 2 | pages = 206 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16522221 | doi = 10.1186/gb-2006-7-2-206 ]
In most cells, water moves in and out by osmosis through the lipid component of cell membranes. Due to the relatively high water permeability of some
epithelial cellsit was long suspected that some additional mechanism for water transport across membranes must exist. But it was not until 1992 that the first aquaporin, ‘aquaporin-1’ (originally known as CHIP), was reported by Peter Agre, then of Johns Hopkins Universityand now a professor and administrator at Duke University.cite journal | author = Agre P, Preston GM, Smith BL, Jung JS, Raina S, Moon C, Guggino WB, Nielsen S | title = Aquaporin CHIP: the archetypal molecular water channel | journal = Am. J. Physiol. | volume = 265 | issue = 4 Pt 2 | pages = F463–76 | year = 1993 | pmid = 7694481 | url = http://ajprenal.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/265/4/F463 | issn = ]
The pioneering discoveries and research on water channels by Agre and his colleagues resulted in the presentation of a
Nobel Prizein Chemistry to Agre in 2003. In 1999, together with other research teams, Agre reported the first high-resolution images of the three-dimensional structure of an aquaporin, viz. aquaporin-1.cite journal | author = Mitsuoka K, Murata K, Walz T, Hirai T, Agre P, Heymann JB, Engel A, Fujiyoshi Y | title = The structure of aquaporin-1 at 4.5-A resolution reveals short alpha-helices in the center of the monomer | journal = J. Struct. Biol. | volume = 128 | issue = 1 | pages = 34–43 | year = 1999 | pmid = 10600556 | doi = 10.1006/jsbi.1999.4177 ] Further studies using supercomputersimulations have identified the pathway of water as it moves through the channel and demonstrated how a pore can allow water to pass without the passage of small solutes.cite journal | author = de Groot BL, Grubmüller H | title = The dynamics and energetics of water permeation and proton exclusion in aquaporins | journal = Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. | volume = 15 | issue = 2 | pages = 176–83 | year = 2005 | pmid = 15837176 | doi = 10.1016/j.sbi.2005.02.003 ]
However the first report of protein mediated water transport through membranes was by Gheorghe Benga in 1986.cite journal | author = Benga G, Popescu O, Pop VI, Holmes RP | title = p-(Chloromercuri)benzenesulfonate binding by membrane proteins and the inhibition of water transport in human erythrocytes | journal = Biochemistry | volume = 25 | issue = 7 | pages = 1535–8 | year = 1986 | pmid = 3011064 | doi = 10.1021/bi00355a011 ] cite journal | author = Kuchel PW | title = The story of the discovery of aquaporins: convergent evolution of ideas--but who got there first? | journal = Cell. Mol. Biol. (Noisy-le-grand) | volume = 52 | issue = 7 | pages = 2–5 | year = 2006 | pmid = 17543213 | doi = | issn = ] This publication which preceded Agre"s first publication on water membrane transport proteins has led to a controversy that Benga's work was neither adequately recognized by Agre nor the Nobel Prize Committee.cite web | url = http://www.ad-astra.ro/benga/ | title = Gheorghe Benga | accessdate = 2008-04-05 | author = G Benga | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | format = | work = | publisher = Ad Astra - Online project for the Romanian Scientific Community | pages = | language = | archiveurl = | archivedate = | quote = ]
Aquaporin proteins are made up of six transmembrane α-helices arranged in a right-handed bundle, with the amino and the carboxyl termini located on the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane.cite journal | author = Fu D, Lu M | title = The structural basis of water permeation and proton exclusion in aquaporins | journal = Mol. Membr. Biol. | volume = 24 | issue = 5-6 | pages = 366–74 | year = 2007 | pmid = 17710641 | doi = 10.1080/09687680701446965 ] The amino and carboxyl halves of the sequence show similarity to each other, in what appears to be a tandem repeat. Some researches believe that this results from an early evolution event which saw the duplication of the half-sized gene. There are also five interhelical loop regions (A – E) that form the extracellular and cytoplasmic vestibules. Loops B and E are hydrophobic loops which contain the highly, although not completely conserved Asn-Pro-Ala (NPA) motif, which overlap the middle of the lipid bilayer of the membrane forming a 3-D 'hourglass' structure where the water flows through. This overlap forms one of the two well-known channel constriction sites in the peptide, the NPA motif and a second and usually narrower constriction known as 'selectivity filter' or ar/R selectivity filter.
Aquaporins form tetramers in the cell membrane, with each
monomeracting as a water channel.cite journal | author = Gonen T, Walz T | title = The structure of aquaporins | journal = Q. Rev. Biophys. | volume = 39 | issue = 4 | pages = 361–96 | year = 2006 | pmid = 17156589 | doi = 10.1017/S0033583506004458 ] The different aquaporins contain differences in their peptide sequence which allows for the size of the pore in the protein to differ between aquaporins. The resultant size of the pore directly affects what molecules are able to pass through the pore, with small pore sizes only allowing small molecules like water to pass through the pore.
Using computer simulations, it has been suggested that the orientation of the water molecules moving through the channel assures that only water passes between cells, due to the formation of a single line of water molecules. The water molecules move through the narrow channel by orienting themselves in the local electrical field formed by the atoms of the channel wall. Upon entering, the water molecules face with their
oxygenatom down the channel. Midstream, they reverse orientation, facing with the oxygen atom up.cite journal | author = de Groot BL, Grubmüller H | title = Water permeation across biological membranes: mechanism and dynamics of aquaporin-1 and GlpF | jounal = Science | volume = 294 | pages = 2353-2357 | year = 2001 | pmid = 11743202 | doi = 10.1126/science.1062459 ]
Why this rotation occurs is not entirely clear yet. Some researchers identified an electrostatic field generated by the two aquaporin half helices HB and HE as the reason for the rotation of water molecules. Others suggested that it is caused by the interaction of hydrogen bonds between the oxygen of the water molecule and the
asparagines in the two NPA motifs. Moreover, whether the rotation of water molecules has any biological significance is still being discussed. Early studies speculated that the "bipolar" orientation of water molecules keep them from conducting protonsvia the Grotthuss mechanism, while still permitting a fast flux of water molecules.cite journal | author = Tajkhorshid E, Nollert P, Jensen MØ, Miercke LJ, O'Connell J, Stroud RM, Schulten K | title = Control of the selectivity of the aquaporin water channel family by global orientational tuning | journal = Science | volume = 296 | issue = 5567 | pages = 525–30 | year = 2002 | pmid = 11964478 | doi = 10.1126/science.1067778 ] More recent studies question this interpretation and emphasize an electrostatic barrier as the reason for proton blockage. In the latter view, the rotation of water molecules is only a side effect of the electrostatic barrier. At present (2008), the origin of the electrostatic field is a matter of debate. While some studies mainly considered the electric field generated by the protein's half helices HB and HE, others emphasized desolvation effects as the proton enters the narrow aquaporin pore.
ar/R selectivity filter
The ar/R (aromatic/arginine) selectivity filter is a cluster of amino acids that help bind to water molecules and exclude other molecules that may try to enter the pore. It is the mechanism by which the aquaporin is able to selectively bind water molecules (hence allowing them through) and prevent other molecules from entering. The ar/P filter is a tetrad that is formed by two amino acid residues from helices 2 (H2) and 5 (H5) and two residues from loop E (LE1 and LE2), found on either side of the NPA motif. The ar/R region is usually found towards the extracellular vestibule, approximately 8 Å above the NPA motif and is often the narrowest part of the pore. The narrow pore acts to weaken the hydrogen bonds between the water molecules allowing the water to interact with the positively charged arginine, which also acts as a proton filter for the pore.
Aquaporins in mammals
There are thirteen known types of aquaporins in mammals, and six of these are located in the kidney,cite journal | author = Nielsen S, Frøkiaer J, Marples D, Kwon TH, Agre P, Knepper MA | title = Aquaporins in the kidney: from molecules to medicine | journal = Physiol. Rev. | volume = 82 | issue = 1 | pages = 205–44 | year = 2002 | pmid = 11773613 | doi = 10.1152/physrev.00024.2001| doi_brokendate = 2008-06-20 ] but the existence of many more is suspected.The most studied aquaporins are compared in the following table:
Aquaporins in plants
In plants water is taken up from the soil through the roots, where it passes from the cortex into the vascular tissues. There are two routes for water to flow in these tissues, known as the
apoplastic and symplastic pathways. The presence of aquaporins in the cell membranes seems to serve to facilitate the transcellular symplastic pathway for water transport. When plant roots are exposed to mercuric chloride, which is known to inhibit aquaporins, the flow of water is greatly reduced while the flow of ions is not, supporting the view that there exists a mechanism for water transport independent of the transport of ions; aquaporins.
Aquaporins in plants are separated into four main homologous subfamilies, or groups:cite journal | author = Kaldenhoff R, Bertl A, Otto B, Moshelion M, Uehlein N | title = Characterization of plant aquaporins | journal = Meth. Enzymol. | volume = 428 | issue = | pages = 505–31 | year = 2007 | pmid = 17875436 | doi = 10.1016/S0076-6879(07)28028-0 ]
*Plasma membrane Intrinsic Protein (PIP)cite journal | author = Kammerloher W, Fischer U, Piechottka GP, Schäffner AR | title = Water channels in the plant plasma membrane cloned by immunoselection from a mammalian expression system | journal = Plant J. | volume = 6 | issue = 2 | pages = 187–99 | year = 1994 | pmid = 7920711 | doi = 0.1111/j.1748-1716.2006.01563.x| doi_brokendate = 2008-06-20 ]
*Tonoplast Intrinsic Protein (TIP)cite journal | author = Maeshima M | title = TONOPLAST TRANSPORTERS: Organization and Function | journal = Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol | volume = 52 | issue = | pages = 469–497 | year = 2001 | pmid = 11337406 | doi = 10.1146/annurev.arplant.52.1.469 ]
*Nodulin-26 like Intrinsic Protein (NIP)cite journal | author = Wallace IS, Choi WG, Roberts DM | title = The structure, function and regulation of the nodulin 26-like intrinsic protein family of plant aquaglyceroporins | journal = Biochim. Biophys. Acta | volume = 1758 | issue = 8 | pages = 1165–75 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16716251 | doi = 10.1016/j.bbamem.2006.03.024 ]
*Small basic Intrinsic Protein (SIP)cite journal | author = Johanson U, Gustavsson S | title = A new subfamily of major intrinsic proteins in plants | journal = Mol. Biol. Evol. | volume = 19 | issue = 4 | pages = 456–61 | year = 2002 | pmid = 11919287 | doi = | issn = | url = http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/4/456 ]
These four subfamilies have later been divided into smaller evolutionary subgroups based on their DNA sequence. PIPs cluster into two subgroups, PIP1 and PIP2, whilst TIPs cluster into 5 subgroups, TIP1, TIP2, TIP3, TIP4 and TIP5. Each subgroup is again split up into isoforms e.g. PIP1;1, PIP1;2.
The silencing of plant aquaporins has been linked to poor plant growth and even death of the plant.
Gating of Plant Aquaporins
gatingof aquaporins is carried out to stop the flow of water through the pore of the protein. This may be carried out for a number of reasons, for example when the plant contains low amounts of cellular water due to drought.cite journal | author = Kaldenhoff R, Fischer M | title = Aquaporins in plants | journal = Acta Physiol (Oxf) | volume = 187 | issue = 1-2 | pages = 169–76 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16734753 | doi = 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2006.01563.x ] The gating of an aquaporin is carried out by an interaction between a gating mechanism and the aquaporin which causes a 3D change in the protein so that it blocks the pore and thus disallows the flow of water through the pore. In plants it has been seen that there are at least two forms of aquaporin gating. These are gating by the dephosphorylation of certain serine residues, which has been seen as a response to drought, and the protonation of specific histidine residues in response to flooding. The phosphorylation of an aquaporin has also been linked to the opening and closing of a plant in response to temperature.
Aquaporins and disease
There have been two clear examples of diseases identified as resulting from mutations in aquaporins:
*Mutations in the aquaporin-2
genecause hereditary nephrogenic diabetes insipidusin humans.cite journal | author = Bichet DG | title = Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus | journal = Adv Chronic Kidney Dis | volume = 13 | issue = 2 | pages = 96–104 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16580609 | doi = 10.1053/j.ackd.2006.01.006 ]
homozygousfor inactivating mutations in the aquaporin-0 gene develop congenital cataracts.cite journal | author = Okamura T, Miyoshi I, Takahashi K, Mototani Y, Ishigaki S, Kon Y, Kasai N | title = Bilateral congenitalcataracts result from a gain-of-function mutation in the gene for aquaporin-0 in mice | journal = Genomics | volume = 81 | issue = 4 | pages = 361–8 | year = 2003 | pmid = 12676560 | doi = 10.1016/S0888-7543(03)00029-6 ]
A small number of people have been identified with severe or total deficiency in aquaporin-1. Interestingly, they are generally healthy, but exhibit a defect in the ability to concentrate solutes in the urine and to conserve water when deprived of drinking water. Mice with targeted deletions in aquaporin-1 also exhibit a deficiency in water conservation due to an inability to concentrate solutes in the kidney medulla by
In addition to its role in genetically determined nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, aquaporins also play a key role in acquired forms of
nephrogenic diabetes insipidus(disorders that cause increased urine production).cite journal | author = Khanna A | title = Acquired nephrogenic diabetes insipidus | journal = Semin. Nephrol. | volume = 26 | issue = 3 | pages = 244–8 | year = 2006 | pmid = 16713497 | doi = 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2006.03.004 ] Acquired nephrogenic diabetes insipidus can result from impaired regulation of aquaporin-2 due to administration of lithium salts (as a treatment for bipolar disorder), low potassium concentrations in the blood (hypokalemia), high calcium concentrations in the blood (hypercalcemia), or a chronically high intake of water beyond the normal requirements (e.g. due to excessive habitual intake of bottled water or coffee).
Finally, it has been found that autoimmune reactions against
aquaporin 4produce Devic's disease.cite journal | author = Lennon VA, Kryzer TJ, Pittock SJ, Verkman AS, Hinson SR | title = IgG marker of optic-spinal multiple sclerosis binds to the aquaporin-4 water channel | journal = J. Exp. Med. | volume = 202 | issue = 4 | pages = 473–7 | year = 2005 | pmid = 16087714 | doi = 10.1084/jem.20050304 ]
* [http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/2003/chemanim1.mpg Animation] (
MPEGfile at nobel.se)
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