A subclass of aquaporin (AQP) water channels, termed aquaglyceroporins, are also able to transport glycerol and perhaps urea and other small solutes. Although extensive data exist on the physiological roles of aquaporin- facilitated water transport, until recently the biological significance of glycerol transport by the mammalian aquaglyceroporins has been unknown. There is now compelling evidence for involvement of aquaglyceroporin-facilitated glycerol transport in skin hydration and fat cell metabolism. Mice deficient in AQP3 have dry skin, reduced skin elasticity and impaired epidermal biosynthesis. Mice lacking AQP7 manifest progressive adipocyte fat accumulation and hypertrophy. These skin and fat phenotypes are attributable to impaired glycerol transport. A potential implication of these findings is the possibility of modulation of aquaglyceroporin expression or function in the therapy of skin diseases and obesity.
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