Aquaporin-1 (AQP1) is the principal water-transporting protein in cell plasma membranes in kidney proximal tubule, where it facilitates transepithelial water transport. Here, a novel role for AQPl in kidney involving the migration of proximal tubule cells is reported. Migration was compared in primary cultures of proximal tubule cells from wild-type and AQP1 null mice. Cell cultures from AQP1 null mice were indistinguishable from those of wild-type mice in their appearance, growth/ proliferation, and adhesiveness, although, as expected, they had reduced plasma membrane water permeability. Migration of AQP1-deficient cells was reduced by >50% compared with wild-type cells, as measured in a Boyden chamber in the presence of a chemotactic stimulus. Comparable slowing of migration of AQP1-deficient cells was also found in an in vitro scratch assay of wound healing, with reduced appearance of lamella-like membrane protrusions at the cell leading edge. Adenoviral-mediated expression of AQP1 in the AQP1-deficient cells, which increased their water permeability to that of wild-type cells, corrected their migration defect. The potential relevance of these in vitro findings to the intact kidney was tested in an in vivo model of acute tubular injury caused by 30 min of renal artery occlusion. At 3 to 5 d after ischemia-reperfusion, kidneys in AQP1 null mice showed remarkably greater tubular injury and cellular actin disorganization than kidneys in wild-type mice. These results provide evidence for the involvement of AQP1 in migration of proximal tubule cells and possibly in the response of the proximal tubule to injury.
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