In this study we assess the functional role of Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) in the skeletal muscle by analyzing whether physical activity modulates AQP4 expression and whether the absence of AQP4 has an effect on osmotic behavior, muscle contractile properties, and physical activity. To this purpose, rats and mice were trained on the treadmill for 10 (D10) and 30 (D30) days and tested with exercise to exhaustion, and muscles were used for immunoblotting, RT-PCR, and fiber-type distribution analysis. Taking advantage of the AQP4 KO murine model, functional analysis of AQP4 was performed on dissected muscle fibers and sarcolemma vesicles. Moreover, WT and AQP4 KO mice were subjected to both voluntary and forced activity. Rat fast-twitch muscles showed a twofold increase in AQP4 protein in D10 and D30 rats compared to sedentary rats. Such increase positively correlated with the animal performance, since highest level of AQP4 protein was found in high runner rats. Interestingly, no shift in muscle fiber composition nor an increase in AQP4-positive fibers was found. Furthermore, no changes in AQP4 mRNA after exercise were detected, suggesting that post-translational events are likely to be responsible for AQP4 modulation. Experiments performed on AQP4 KO mice revealed a strong impairment in osmotic responses as well as in forced and voluntary activities compared to WT mice, even though force development amplitude and contractile properties were unvaried. Our findings definitively demonstrate the physiological role of AQP4 in supporting muscle contractile activity and metabolic changes that occur in fast-twitch skeletal muscle during prolonged exercise.
Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease, characterized by the presence of autoantibody (NMO-IgG) to Aquaporin-4 (AQP4). NMO-IgG identification supports NMO diagnosis and several diagnostic tests have been developed, but their sensitivity is too variable, and some assay show low sensitivity. This impairs correct diagnosis of NMO. By cell based assay (CBA) we here evaluate the efficacy of different strategies to express AQP4 in mammalian cells in terms of: a) AQP4 translation initiation signals; b) AQP4 isoforms (M1 and M23) and fluorescent tag position; c) NMO serum concentration and AQP4 degradation. Our results demonstrate that when using AQP4-M1, the nucleotide in position -3 of the AUG greatly affects the AQP4-M1/M23 protein ratio, NMO-IgG binding, and consequently test sensitivity. Test sensitivity was highest with M23 expressing cells (97.5%) and only 27.5% with AQP4-M1. The fluorescent tag added to the N-terminus of AQP4-M23 considerably affected the NMO-IgG binding, and test sensitivity, due to disruption of AQP4 suprastructures. Furthermore, sera used at high concentration resulted in AQP4 degradation which affected test sensitivity. To further evaluate the reliability of the M23 based CBA test, samples of one NMO patient collected during about 2 years clinical follow-up were tested. The results of serum titer correlated with disease activity and treatment response. In conclusion, we provide a molecular explanation for the contrasting CBA test data reported and suggest the use of M23 with a C-terminus fluorescent tag as the proper test for NMO diagnosis.
Prohibiting angiogenesis is an important therapeutic approach for fighting cancer and other angiogenic related diseases. Research focused on proteins that regulate abnormal angiogenesis has attracted intense interest in both academia and industry. Such proteins are able to target several angiogenic factors concurrently, thereby increasing the possibility of therapeutic success. Aquaporin-1 (AQP1) is a water channel membrane protein that promotes tumour angiogenesis by allowing faster endothelial cell migration. In this study we test the hypothesis that AQP1 inhibition impairs tumour growth in a mouse model of melanoma. After validating the inhibitor efficacy of two different AQP1 specific siRNAs in cell cultures, RNA interference experiments were performed by intratumoural injections of AQP1 siRNAs in mice. After 6 days of treatment, AQP1 siRNA treated tumours showed a 75 % reduction in volume when compared to controls. AQP1 protein level, in AQP1 knockdown tumours, was around 75 % that of the controls and was associated with a significant 40 % reduced expression of the endothelial marker, Factor VIII. Immunofluorescence analysis of AQP1 siRNA treated tumours showed a significantly lower microvessel density. Time course experiments demonstrated that repeated injections of AQP1 siRNA over time are effective in sustaining the inhibition of tumour growth. Finally, we have confirmed the role of AQP1 in sustaining an active endothelium during angiogenesis and we have shown that AQP1 reduction causes an increase in VEGF levels. In conclusion, this study validates AQP1 as a pro-angiogenic protein, relevant for the therapy of cancer and other angiogenic-related diseases such as psoriasis, endometriosis, arthritis and atherosclerosis.
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