Aquaporins (AQP) are a family of intrinsic membrane proteins that function as water-selective channels controlling transportation of water in and out of cells. Besides, in some cases, they also function as transporters of small neutral solutes, glycerin, urea, etc. More than 10 isoforms hav been identified from various tissues. Structural analyses of aquaporins amino acid sequence has shown 6 highly conserved hydrophobic bilayer spanning domains that consist of 18-25 amino acids each, a 2-fold repeat in the primary structure, and two conserved asn-pro-ala (NPA) motifs. These proteins are expressed in tissue- and cell-specific manners, and are closely related to the specific functions of tissues and cells. Studies have revealed that aquaporins expressed in specific tissues and cells are associated with reabsorption of water in the kidney, cerebrospinal fluid secretion and reabsorption, production of pulmonary secretions, aqueous humor secretion and reabsorption as well as multiple other physiologic processes.
Here shows part of aquaporin family in humans including AQP0 found in the lens; AQP1 found in the blood vessels, kidney proximal tubules, eye, and ear; AQP2 found in the kidney collecting ducts; AQP3 found in the kidney collecting ducts, epidermis, urinary, respiratory, and digestive tracts, etc. The diverse and characteristic distribution of aquaporins in the body suggests their multiple physiologic functions.
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