Interferon-γ suppresses intestinal epithelial aquaporin-1 expression via Janus kinase and STAT3 activation

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 20;10(3):e0118713. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118713. eCollection 2015.


Inflammatory bowel diseases are associated with dysregulated electrolyte and water transport and resultant diarrhea. Aquaporins are transmembrane proteins that function as water channels in intestinal epithelial cells. We investigated the effect of the inflammatory cytokine, interferon-γ, which is a major player in inflammatory bowel diseases, on aquaporin-1 expression in a mouse colonic epithelial cell line, CMT93. CMT93 monolayers were exposed to 10 ng/mL interferon-γ and aquaporin-1 mRNA and protein expressions were measured by real-time PCR and western blot, respectively. In other experiments, CMT93 cells were pretreated with inhibitors or were transfected with siRNA to block the effects of Janus kinases, STATs 1 and 3, or interferon regulatory factor 2, prior to treatment with interferon-γ. Interferon-γ decreased aquaporin-1 expression in mouse intestinal epithelial cells in a manner that did not depend on the classical STAT1/JAK2/IRF-1 pathway, but rather, on an alternate Janus kinase (likely JAK1) as well as on STAT3. The pro-inflammatory cytokine, interferon-γ may contribute to diarrhea associated with intestinal inflammation in part through regulation of the epithelial aquaporin-1 water channel via a non-classical JAK/STAT receptor signalling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporin 1 / genetics*
  • Aquaporin 1 / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-1 / metabolism
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-2 / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology*
  • Intestines / cytology*
  • Janus Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-1
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-2
  • Irf2 protein, mouse
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Aquaporin 1
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Janus Kinases

Grant support

Funding was provided by Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.