Aquaporin water channels: molecular mechanisms for human diseases

FEBS Lett. 2003 Nov 27;555(1):72-8. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(03)01083-4.


Although water is the major component of all biological fluids, the molecular pathways for water transport across cell membranes eluded identification until the discovery of the aquaporin family of water channels. The atomic structure of mammalian AQP1 illustrates how this family of proteins is freely permeated by water but not protons (hydronium ions, H3O+). Definition of the subcellular sites of expression predicted their physiological functions and potential clinical disorders. Analysis of several human disease states has confirmed that aquaporins are involved in multiple different illnesses including abnormalities of kidney function, loss of vision, onset of brain edema, starvation, and arsenic toxicity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aquaporins / chemistry*
  • Aquaporins / genetics
  • Aquaporins / metabolism*
  • Cataract / congenital
  • Cataract / genetics
  • Cataract / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / genetics
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Conformation
  • Water / metabolism


  • Aquaporins
  • Water