Aquaporins (AQP) are water-transporting proteins expressed in many fluid-transporting epithelia and endothelia. In kidney, AQP1 is expressed in plasma membranes of proximal tubule, thin descending limb of Henle and descending vasa recta, AQP2 in collecting duct luminal membrane, AQP3 and AQP4 in collecting duct basolateral membrane, AQP6 in intercalated cells, and AQP7 in the S3 segment of proximal tubule. Human mutations in AQP2 cause hereditary non-X-linked nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Transgenic mice lacking the renal aquaporins have been useful in defining their role. Mice deficient in AQP1 are polyuric and unable to form a concentrated urine because of defective proximal tubule fluid absorption and countercurrent multiplication. Mice lacking AQP3 are markedly polyuric due to low water permeability across the cortical and outer medullary collecting duct. However, mice lacking AQP4, which is expressed mainly in inner medullary collecting duct, manifest only a mild defect in maximum urinary concentrating ability. The aquaporin null mice have normal urinary diluting ability. From many renal and extrarenal phenotype studies of aquaporin null mice, we conclude that aquaporins are important for rapid near-isosmolar transepithelial fluid absorption/secretion and for rapid vectorial water movement driven by osmotic gradients. The renal phenotype in aquaporin null mice suggests the utility of aquaporin blockers as novel aquaretic-diuretic agents.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel