Novel roles of aquaporins revealed by phenotype analysis of knockout mice

  • A. S. Verkman
Part of the Reviews of Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology book series (REVIEWS, volume 155)


The aquaporins (AQPs) are small integral membrane proteins that transport water and in some cases small solutes such as glycerol. Physiological roles of the ten or more mammalian AQPs have been proposed based on their expression in epithelial, endothelial and other tissues, their regulation, and in some cases the existence of humans with AQP mutation. Here, the role of AQPs in mammalian physiology is reviewed, based on phenotype analysis of transgenic mouse models of AQP deletion/mutation. Phenotype studies support the predicted roles of AQPs in kidney tubule and microvessel fluid transport for urinary concentrating function, and in fluid-secreting glandular epithelia. The phenotype studies have also shown unexpected roles of AQPs in brain and corneal swelling, in neural signal transduction, in regulation of intracranial and intraocular pressure, and in tumor angiogenesis and cell migration. The water/glycerol-transporting AQPs were found to play unexpected roles in skin hydration and in fat metabolism. However, many phenotype studies were negative, such as normal airway/lung and skeletal muscle function, despite AQP expression, indicating that tissue-specific AQP expression does not indicate physiological significance. The mouse phenotype data suggest that modulators of AQP expression/function may have such wide-ranging clinical applications as diuretics and in the treatment of brain swelling, glaucoma, epilepsy, obesity, and cancer.


Null Mouse Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus Wildtype Mouse Submucosal Gland Airway Surface Liquid 
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© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. Verkman
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and Physiology, Cardiovascular Research InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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