Regulation of AQP0 water permeability is enhanced by cooperativity.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1085/jgp.201210884
Aquaporin 0 (AQP0), essential for lens clarity, is a tetrameric protein composed of four identical monomers, each of which has its own water pore. The water permeability of AQP0 expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes can be approximately doubled by changes in calcium concentration or pH. Although each monomer pore functions as a water channel, under certain conditions the pores act cooperatively. In other words, the tetramer is the functional unit. In this paper, we show that changes in external pH and calcium can induce an increase in water permeability that exhibits either a positive cooperativity switch-like increase in water permeability or an increase in water permeability in which each monomer acts independently and additively. Because the concentrations of calcium and hydrogen ions increase toward the center of the lens, a concentration signal could trigger a regulatory change in AQP0 water permeability. It thus seems plausible that the cooperative modes of water permeability regulation by AQP0 tetramers mediated by decreased pH and elevated calcium are the physiologically important ones in the living lens.