Interactive Fly, Drosophila



Structure of aquaporins

The archetypal aquaporin AQP1 is a partly glycosylated water-selective channel thatis widely expressed in the plasma membranes of several water-permeable epithelial and endothelial cells. Thethree-dimensional structure of deglycosylated, human erythrocyte AQP1, was determined at 7 A resolution in the membrane plane byelectron crystallography of frozen-hydrated two-dimensional crystals. The structure has an inplane, intramolecular 2-fold axis ofsymmetry located in the hydrophobic core of the bilayer. The AQP1 monomer is composed of six membrane-spanning, tiltedalpha-helices. These helices form a barrel that encloses a vestibular region leading to the water-selective channel, which is outlined bydensities attributed to the functionally important NPA boxes and their bridges to the surrounding helices. The intramolecular symmetrywithin the AQP1 molecule represents a new motif for the topology and design of membrane protein channels, and is a simple andelegant solution to the problem of bidirectional transport across the bilayer (Cheng, 1997).

Expression in Xenopus oocytes and functional studiesof an erythrocyte integral membrane protein of relative molecular mass 28,000 have identified a mercury-sensitive water channel asaquaporin-1 (AQP1). AQP1 is a homotetramer containing four independent aqueous channels. When reconstituted into lipid bilayers, the protein formstwo-dimensional lattices with a unit cell containing two tetramers in opposite orientation. The three-dimensionalstructure of AQP1 was determined at 6A resolution by cryo-electron microscopy. Each AQP1 monomer has six tilted, bilayer-spanningalpha-helices that form a right-handed bundle surrounding a central density. These results, together with functional studies, providea model that identifies the aqueous pore in the AQP1 molecule and indicates the organization of the tetrameric complex in themembrane (Walz, 1997).

The functions of major intrinsic protein (MIP) in the vertebrate lens of the eye are still unresolved; however the sequence homology with channel-formingintegral membrane protein (CHIP) and other aquaporins suggests that MIP is a water channel. Immunolocalizations confirmed thatXenopus oocytes injected with bovine MIP cRNA express the protein and target it to the plasma membrane. Control oocytes oroocytes expressing MIP or CHIP exhibit small, equivalent membrane currents that can be reversibly increased by osmoticswelling. When compared with water-injected control oocytes, the coefficient of osmotic water permeability (Pf) of MIP oocytes isincreased 4-5-fold with a low Arrhenius activation energy, while the Pf of CHIP oocytes increases more than 30-fold. To identify structuresresponsible for these differences in Pf, recombinant MIP proteins were expressed. Analysis of MIP-CHIP chimeric proteins revealthat the 4-kDa cytoplasmic domain of MIP does not behave as a negative regulator. Individual residues in MIP were replaced byresidues conserved among the aquaporins, and introduction of a proline in the 5th transmembrane domain of MIP raises the Pf by50%. Thus oocytes expressing MIP fail to exhibit ion channel activity and consistently exhibit water transport by a facilitatedpathway that is qualitatively similar to the aquaporins but of lesser magnitude. It is concluded that MIP functions as an aquaporin in the vertebratelens, but the protein may also have other essential functions (Mulders, 1995).

Evolutionary and biological diversity of aquaporins

The major intrinsic protein (MIP) of the bovine lens fiber cell membrane was the first member of the MIP family of proteins to besequenced and characterized. It is probably a homotetramer with transmembrane channel activity that plays a role in lens biogenesis ormaintenance. The polypeptide chain of each subunit may span the membrane six times, and both the N- and C-termini face the cellcytoplasm. Eighteen sequenced or partially sequenced proteins from bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals have now been shown to bemembers of the MIP family. These proteins appear to function in (1) metazoan development and neurogenesis (MIP and BIB), (2)water transport across the human erythrocyte membrane (ChIP), (3) communication between host plant cells and symbioticnitrogen-fixing bacteria (NOD), (4) transport across the tonoplast membrane during plant seed development (alpha-TIP), (5) waterstress-induced resistance to desiccation in plants (Wsi-TIP), (6) suppression of a genetic growth defect on fermentable sugars inyeast (FPS1), and (7) transport of glycerol across bacterial cell membranes (GlpF). One other sequenced member of the MIP family(ORF1 of Lactococcus lactis) has no known physiological function. The biochemical functions of the eukaryotic proteins are not wellestablished. Computer analyses have revealed that the first and second halves of all MIP family proteins probably arose by a tandem,intragenic, duplication event. Thus, the primary structure of putative transmembrane helices 1 to 3 is similar to that of putativetransmembrane helices 4 to 6 even though they are of opposite orientation in the membrane. Among the most conserved residues inthese two repeated halves are a membrane-embedded glutamate (E) in helices 1 and 4, an asparagine-proline-alanine (NPA) sequencein the loops between helices 2 and 3 (cytoplasmically localized) and helices 5 and 6 (extracellularly localized), and a glycine withinhelices 3 and 6. Statistical analyses suggest that the two halves of these proteins have evolved to serve distinct functions: the first halfis more important for the generalized (that is, common) functions of these proteins, while the second half is moredifferentiated to provide for specific (more varied or dissimilar) functions. The apparent origin of MIP family proteins by duplication of athree-spanner precursor protein suggests an evolutionary origin distinct from other transport proteins with six transmembranespanners (Reizer, 1993).

The ubiquitous major intrinsic protein (MIP) family includes several transmembrane channel proteins known to exhibit specificity forwater and/or neutral solutes. 84 fully or partially sequenced members of this family have beed identified; over 50representative, divergent, fully sequenced members have been aligned; the resultant multiple alignment has been used to derive current MIP family-specificsignature sequences and a phylogenetic tree has been constructed. The tree reveals novel features relevant to the evolutionary history ofthis protein family. These features plus an evaluation of functional studies lead to two postulates: (1) that all current MIP family proteinsderived from two divergent bacterial paralogues, one a glycerol facilitator, the other an aquaporin, and (2) that most or all currentmembers of the family have retained these or closely related physiological functions (Park, 1996).

A group of transmembrane proteins that are related to the major intrinsic protein of lens fibers (MIP26) have been named "aquaporins"to reflect their role as water channels. These proteins are located at strategic membrane sites in a variety of epithelia, most of whichhave well-defined physiological functions in fluid absorption or secretion. However, some aquaporins have been localized in cell typeswhere their role is at present unknown. Most of the aquaporins are delivered to the plasma membrane in a non-regulated (constitutive)fashion, but AQP2 enters the regulated exocytotic pathway and its membrane expression is controlled by the action of the antidiuretichormone, vasopressin. These pathways of constitutive versus regulated delivery to the plasma membrane have been reconstituted intransfected LLC-PK1 epithelial cells, indicating that the information encoded within the protein sequence is sufficient to allow sortingof newly synthesized protein into distinct intracellular vesicles. Different members of the aquaporin family can be targeted to eitherapical, basolateral or both apical and basolateral plasma membrane domains of polarized epithelial cells. This implies that signals for thepolarized targeting of these proteins also is located in non-homologous regions of these similar proteins. Thus, future investigations onthe aquaporin family of proteins will provide important information not only on the physiology of membrane transport processes inmany cell types, but also on the targeting and trafficking signals that allow proteins to enter distinct intracellular vesicular pathways inepithelial cells (Brown, 1995).

A comparison was made of single channel water and glycerol permeabilities of mammalian aquaporins (AQP 1-5) and themajor intrinsic protein of lens fiber (MIP). Eachof 30 epitope-tagged constructs were expressed strongly at the oocyte plasma membrane. Glycerol wasincreased significantly in oocytes expressing AQP3 (GLIP). Glycerol uptake was not increased in oocytes expressing AQP1, AQP2, AQP4, AQP5, or MIP. The different aquaporins have very different intrinsic water permeabilities for the mammalian aquaporin homologs, with the permiability for AQP4 remarkablyhigher than that of the others. The permiability values establish limits on aquaporin tissue densities required for physiological function andsuggest significant structural and functional differences among the aquaporins (Yang, 1997).

GlpF is the glycerol facilitator of the E. coli inner membrane with sequence similarity to Bib. It is a passive channel permeable to small neutral molecules including glycerol and glycine. Although the E. coli outer membrane has several pore-type transporters, glpF is the only channel that allows bidirectional transport of molecules through the inner cytoplasmic membrane (Rao, 1990 and references).

Aquaporins of the eye lens

The major intrinsic protein (MIP) of the vertebrate eye lens is the first identified member of asequence-related family of cell-membrane proteins that appears to have evolved by gene duplication.Several members of the MIP family transport water (aquaporins), glycerol and other small molecules inmicrobial, plant and animal cells. Mutations in two aquaporin homologs of MIP underlie an autosomalrecessive form of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and absence of the Colton blood group antigens inhumans.Distinct mutations in the murine Mip gene underlie one form of autosomal dominantcataract in the mouse. The cataract Fraser mutation is a transposon-induced splicing error thatsubstitutes a long terminal repeat sequence for the carboxy-terminus of MIP. The lens opacitymutation is an amino-acid substitution that inhibits targeting of MIP to the cell-membrane. These alleliccataract mutations provide the first direct evidence that MIP plays a crucial role in the development ofa transparent eye lens (Shiels, 1995).

Major intrinsic protein is the most abundant membrane protein in mammalian lens fiber cells. It is localized on the cell membrane. As the lens is avascular, cell-cell coupling is essential to ensure extensive metabolite exchange. There are abundant lens junctional structures between the fiber cells, some of which resemble gap junctions. It has been postulated that MIP is involved in forming gap junctions between the lens fiber cells. Unlike connexins, however, MIP has not been shown to form gap junctions and MIP is localized not only to gap junctions but also to other types of junctions. MIP has been reconstituted into lipid bilayers and has been shown to form non-selective channels with large conductance (Rao, 1990 and references).

Aquaporins of Malpighian tubules, kidney, and the digestive system

Aquaporins are members of the major intrinsic protein family (MIP), of which the only Drosophila memberknown is the neurogenic gene big brain. A second Drosophila aquaporin has been identified by RT-PCRfrom the fly's Malpighian tubules. Unlike the enigmatic big brain, this gene, DRIP(Drosophila integral protein) is thought to be a classical water channel (Dow, 1995).

The structural organization of the P25 protein, a member of the major intrinsic protein family found in the digestive tractof homopteran sap-sucking insects exhibits functionalproperties similar to those of aquaporin 1, the archetypal water channel. A full-length cDNA has been cloned from a Cicadella viridis library with an open reading frame of 765 bp that encodes a 26-kDa protein whosesequence is 43, 40, 36 and 36% identical to aquaporins 1, 2, z and tonoplast intrinsic protein gamma, respectively. Translation ofthe corresponding RNA in Xenopus oocytes generates a polypeptide that is specifically recognized by polyclonal antibodies raisedagainst native P25. Expression of the protein in Xenopus oocyte membranes leads to a15-fold increase of osmotic membrane water permeability. This increase is inhibited by HgCl2. The permeability has an Arrheniusactivation energy of 11.7 kJ/mol. This protein has been named Cicadella aquaporin (AQPcic). The oocytes expressing Cicadella aquaporinare less sensitive to HgCl2 than oocytes expressing aquaporin 1. In the Xenopus oocyte system, Cicadella aquaporin fails totransport glycerol, urea and ions. It exhibits permeabilities to ethylene glycol and formamide similar to those measured for aquaporin1 under the same conditions (Le Caheric, 1996a).

Xenopus laevis oocytes are widely used as an expression system for plasma membrane proteins, achieved by cytoplasmicmicroinjection of messenger RNA. Proteoliposome suspensions were injected into the cytoplasm of Xenopus oocytes and the membrane protein function was analyzed. The proteins used in this work are all members of the MIP family: the human erythrocyte waterchannel aquaporin 1 (AQP1), the major intrinsic protein (MIP26) from bovine eye lens and a 25 kDa polypeptide (P25) from a watershunting complex found in the digestive tract of a homopteran sap-sucking insect (Cicadella viridis). Proteoliposomes containingeither AQP1, MIP26, or P25 were injected into Xenopus oocytes. The subsequent insertion of these proteins into the plasmamembrane of oocytes was demonstrated by immunocytochemistry. Oocytes microinjected with either AQP1 or P25-proteoliposomesexhibit significantly increased osmotic membrane water permeabilities compared to those measured for oocytes injected with liposomes alone or with MIP26-proteoliposomes. These effects were inhibited by HgCl2 in a reversible manner. Arrheniusactivation energies of water transfer are low when AQP1 or P25 are present in oocyte plasma membranes. The properties observed here for AQP1 areidentical to those widely reported following AQP1 cRNA expression in oocytes. It is concluded that: (1)exogenous plasma membrane proteins incorporated into liposomes and microinjected into the cytoplasm of Xenopus oocytes aresubsequently found in the plasma membrane of the oocytes in a functional state, and (2) in this system, the P25 polypeptide from theMIP family found in the digestive tract of Cicadella viridis exhibits properties similar to those described for the archetype of waterchannels AQP1, and thus is considered to be a new member of the aquaporin family (Le Caherec, 1996b).

Water transport in highly water-permeable membranes is conducted by water-selective pores--namely, water channels. The recentcloning of water channels revealed the water-selective characteristics of these proteins when expressed in Xenopus oocytes orreconstituted in liposomes. Currently, it is assumed that the function of water channels is to transport only water. A member of the water channel family also transports nonionic small molecules such as urea and glycerol. Thischannel aquaporin 3 (AQP3) has amino acid sequence homology (from 33 to 42%) with major intrinsicprotein (MIP) family proteins including AQP-channel-forming integral membrane protein, AQP-collecting duct, MIP, AQP-gammatonoplast intrinsic protein, nodulin 26, and glycerol facilitator. Thus, AQP3 is an additional member of the MIP family.Osmotic water permeability of Xenopus oocytes is 10-fold higher in oocytes injected with AQP3transcript than with water-injected oocytes. The increase in osmotic water permeability is inhibited by HgCl2, and this effect isreversed by a reducing agent, 2-mercaptoethanol. To a smaller degree, AQP3 also facilitates the transport of nonionic smallsolutes, such as urea and glycerol, while the previously cloned water channels are permeable only to water when expressed in Xenopusoocytes. AQP3 mRNA is expressed abundantly in kidney medulla and colon. In kidney, it is exclusively immunolocalized at thebasolateral membrane of collecting duct cells. AQP3 may function as a water and urea exit mechanism in antidiuresis in collecting ductcells (Ishibashi, 1994).

big brain: Biological Overview | Characterization of Channel Function | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

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