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Submitted by: Roslyn Bill
Aquaporins (AQPs) are water channel proteins that are essential to life, being expressed in all kingdoms. In humans, there are 13 AQPs, at least one of which is found in every organ system. The structural biology of the AQP family is well-established and many functions for AQPs have been reported in health and disease. AQP expression is linked to numerous pathologies including tumor metastasis, fluid dysregulation, and traumatic injury. The targeted modulation of AQPs therefore presents an opportunity to develop novel treatments for diverse conditions. Various techniques such as video microscopy, light scattering and fluorescence quenching have been used to test putative AQP inhibitors in both AQP-expressing mammalian cells and heterologous expression systems. The inherent variability within these methods has caused discrepancy and many molecules that are inhibitory in one experimental system (such as tetraethylammonium, acetazolamide, and anti-epileptic drugs) have no activity in others. Some heavy metal ions (that would not be suitable for therapeutic use) and the compound, TGN-020, have been shown to inhibit some AQPs. Clinical trials for neuromyelitis optica treatments using anti-AQP4 IgG are in progress. However, these antibodies have no effect on water transport. More research to standardize high-throughput assays is required to identify AQP modulators for which there is an urgent and unmet clinical need.
Submitted by: Arie Verkerk
Mammalian aquaporins (AQPs) are transmembrane channels expressed in a large variety of cells and tissues throughout the body. They are known as water channels, but they also facilitate the transport of small solutes, gasses, and monovalent cations. To date, 13 different AQPs, encoded by the genes AQP0–AQP12, have been identified in mammals, which regulate various important biological functions in kidney, brain, lung, digestive system, eye, and skin. Consequently, dysfunction of AQPs is involved in a wide variety of disorders. AQPs are also present in the heart, even with a specific distribution pattern in cardiomyocytes, but whether their presence is essential for proper (electro)physiological cardiac function has not intensively been studied. In a recent review published in Int. J. Mol. Sci. (https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20082039), we summarizes recent findings and highlights the involvement of AQPs in normal and pathological cardiac function. We conclude that AQPs are at least implicated in proper cardiac water homeostasis and energy balance as well as heart failure and arsenic cardiotoxicity. However, our review also demonstrates that many effects of cardiac AQPs, especially on excitation-contraction coupling processes, are virtually unexplored.