The role of aquaporins in cellular and whole plant water balance

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 May 1;1465(1-2):324-42. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2736(00)00147-4.


Aquaporins are water channel proteins belonging to the major intrinsic protein (MIP) superfamily of membrane proteins. More than 150 MIPs have been identified in organisms ranging from bacteria to animals and plants. In plants, aquaporins are present in the plasma membrane and in the vacuolar membrane where they are abundant constituents. Functional studies of aquaporins have hitherto mainly been performed by heterologous expression in Xenopus oocytes. A main issue is now to understand their role in the plant, where they are likely to be important both at the cellular and at the whole plant level. Plants contain a large number of aquaporin isoforms with distinct cell type- and tissue-specific expression patterns. Some of these are constitutively expressed, whereas the expression of others is regulated in response to environmental factors, such as drought and salinity. At the protein level, regulation of water transport activity by phosphorylation has been reported for some aquaporins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Aquaporins / chemistry
  • Aquaporins / genetics
  • Aquaporins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Isoelectric Point
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plant Structures / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Aquaporins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms