Absence of aquaporin-4 in skeletal muscle alters proteins involved in bioenergetic pathways and calcium handling

PLoS One. 2011 Apr 28;6(4):e19225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019225.


Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is a water channel expressed at the sarcolemma of fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers, whose expression is altered in several forms of muscular dystrophies. However, little is known concerning the physiological role of AQP4 in skeletal muscle and its functional and structural interaction with skeletal muscle proteome. Using AQP4-null mice, we analyzed the effect of the absence of AQP4 on the morphology and protein composition of sarcolemma as well as on the whole skeletal muscle proteome. Immunofluorescence analysis showed that the absence of AQP4 did not perturb the expression and cellular localization of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex proteins, aside from those belonging to the extracellular matrix, and no alteration was found in sarcolemma integrity by dye extravasation assay. With the use of a 2DE-approach (BN/SDS-PAGE), protein maps revealed that in quadriceps, out of 300 Coomassie-blue detected and matched spots, 19 proteins exhibited changed expression in AQP4(-/-) compared to WT mice. In particular, comparison of the protein profiles revealed 12 up- and 7 down-regulated protein spots in AQP4-/- muscle. Protein identification by MS revealed that the perturbed expression pattern belongs to proteins involved in energy metabolism (i.e. GAPDH, creatine kinase), as well as in Ca(2+) handling (i.e. parvalbumin, SERCA1). Western blot analysis, performed on some significantly changed proteins, validated the 2D results. Together these findings suggest AQP4 as a novel determinant in the regulation of skeletal muscle metabolism and better define the role of this water channel in skeletal muscle physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 4 / deficiency*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Dystrophin / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Proteomics
  • Quadriceps Muscle / cytology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / metabolism
  • Sarcolemma / metabolism


  • Aquaporin 4
  • Dystrophin
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Calcium