Stephen D Tyerman, Mohamad Kourghi, Caitlin S Byrt, Samantha McGaughey, Jiaen Qiu, Andrea J Yool, Saeed Nourmohammadi, Jinxin V Pei
Aquaporins (AQPs) are known to facilitate water and solute fluxes across barrier membranes. An increasing number of AQPs are being found to serve as ion channels. Ion and water permeability of selected plant and animal AQPs (plant Arabidopsis thaliana AtPIP2;1, AtPIP2;2, AtPIP2;7, human Homo sapiens HsAQP1, rat Rattus norvegicus RnAQP4, RnAQP5, and fly Drosophilamelanogaster DmBIB) were expressed in Xenopus oocytes and examined in chelator-buffered salines to evaluate the effects of divalent cations (Ca(2+), Mg(2+), Ba(2+) and Cd(2+)) on ionic conductances. AtPIP2;1, AtPIP2;2, HsAQP1 and DmBIB expressing oocytes had ionic conductances, and showed differential sensitivity to block by external Ca(2+). The order of potency of inhibition by Ca(2+) was AtPIP2;2 > AtPIP2;1 > DmBIB > HsAQP1. Blockage of the AQP cation channels by Ba(2+) and Cd(2+) caused voltage-sensitive outward rectification. The channels with the highest sensitivity to Ca(2+) (AtPIP2;1 and AtPIP2;2) showed a distinctive relief of the Ca(2+) block by co-application of excess Ba(2+), suggesting that divalent ions act at the same site. Recognizing the regulatory role of divalent cations may enable the discovery of other classes of AQP ion channels, and facilitate the development of tools for modulating AQP ion channels. Modulators of AQPs have potential value for diverse applications including improving salinity tolerance in plants, controlling vector-borne diseases, and intervening in serious clinical conditions involving AQPs, such as cancer metastasis, cardiovascular or renal dysfunction.