Aquaporins contribute to diarrhoea caused by attaching and effacing bacterial pathogens

Cell Microbiol. 2007 Jan;9(1):131-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2006.00773.x. Epub 2006 Aug 2.


Attaching and effacing (A/E) pathogens such as enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) cause serious global health problems. These bacteria colonize the gastrointestinal system, attach to intestinal epithelial cells, efface (collapse) infected cell microvilli and cause overt diarrhoea that may ultimately result in death of the host. Although pathogenically induced diarrhoea is a significant global health issue, the molecular mechanisms that underlie this disease remain largely unknown. A natural murine infection model, employing the A/E pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, has been helpful in studying the diseases in vivo. C. rodentium colonize the colon at high levels, attach to colonocytes, efface microvilli and cause hyperplasia and inflammation in infected mice. As the disease progresses, the mice develop a diarrhoea-like phenotype. Aquaporin (AQP) water channels have been proposed to play a role in the normal dehydration of faecal contents. Here we examine whether C. rodentium infection may alter AQP localization in colonocytes. We demonstrate that during infection, AQP2 and AQP3 are mislocalized from their normal location along cell membranes to the cell cytoplasm. The change in localization of these proteins correlates with the diarrhoea-like phenotype present in infected mice. Mice that recover from the infection at 28-35 days post inoculum regain their normal membrane AQP localization. The altered localization of AQPs is partially dependent on the bacterial type III effector proteins EspF and EspG. We conclude that altered AQP localization may be a contributing factor to diarrhoea during bacterial infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 2 / analysis
  • Aquaporin 2 / metabolism*
  • Aquaporin 3 / analysis
  • Aquaporin 3 / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Citrobacter rodentium / metabolism*
  • Citrobacter rodentium / pathogenicity
  • Colon / chemistry
  • Colon / cytology
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / metabolism*
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / pathology
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / metabolism*
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / microbiology
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / pathology
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Water / analysis


  • Aqp2 protein, mouse
  • Aqp3 protein, mouse
  • Aquaporin 2
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Water
  • Aquaporin 3