Aquaporin-0 membrane junctions form upon proteolytic cleavage

J Mol Biol. 2004 Sep 24;342(4):1337-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2004.07.076.


Aquaporin-0 (AQP0), previously known as major intrinsic protein (MIP), is the only water pore protein expressed in lens fiber cells. AQP0 is highly specific to lens fiber cells and constitutes the most abundant intrinsic membrane protein in these cells. The protein is initially expressed as a full-length protein in young fiber cells in the lens cortex, but becomes increasingly cleaved in the lens core region. Reconstitution of AQP0 isolated from the core of sheep lenses containing a proportion of truncated protein, produced double-layered two-dimensional (2D) crystals, which displayed the same dimensions as the thin 11 nm lens fiber cell junctions, which are prominent in the lens core. In contrast reconstitution of full-length AQP0 isolated from the lens cortex reproducibly yielded single-layered 2D crystals. We present electron diffraction patterns and projection maps of both crystal types. We show that cleavage of the intracellular C terminus enhances the adhesive properties of the extracellular surface of AQP0, indicating a conformational change in the molecule. This change of function of AQP0 from a water pore in the cortex to an adhesion molecule in the lens core constitutes another manifestation of the gene sharing concept originally proposed on the basis of the dual function of crystallins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Aquaporins
  • Biopolymers / chemistry
  • Biopolymers / metabolism
  • Eye Proteins / chemistry
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sheep


  • Aquaporins
  • Biopolymers
  • Eye Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • aquaporin 0