Rapid tonicity induced re-localisation of endogenous aquaporin 4 in primary rat astrocytes - a therapeutic target for cytotoxic brain oedema?

R. Day, P. Kitchen, M. Salman, R. Bill, A. Conner, M. Conner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


It is estimated that 69-75 million people worldwide will suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke each year. Brain oedema caused by TBI or following a stroke, together with other disorders of the brain cost Europe €770 billion in 2014.
Aquaporins (AQP) are transmembrane water channels involved in many physiologies and are responsible for the maintenance of water homeostasis. They react rapidly to changes in osmolarity by transporting water through their highly selective central pore to maintain tonicity and aid in cell volume regulation. We have previously shown that recombinant AQP1-GFP trafficking occurs in a proteinkinase C-microtubule dependant manner in HEK-293 cells in response to hypotonicity. This trafficking mechanism is also reliant on the presence of calcium and its messenger-binding protein calmodulin and results in increased cell surface expression of AQP1 in a time-scale of ~30 seconds. There is currently very little research into the trafficking mechanisms of endogenous AQPs in primary cells.
AQP4 is the most abundantly expressed AQP within the brain, it is localised to the astrocytic end-feet, in contact with the blood vessels at the blood-brain-barrier. In situations where the exquisitely-tuned osmotic balance is disturbed, high water permeability can become detrimental. AQP4-mediated water influx causes rapid brain swelling, resulting in death or long term brain damage. Previous research has shown that AQP4 knock-out mice were protected from the formation of cytotoxic brain oedema in a stroke model, highlighting AQP4 as a key drug target for this pathology. As there are currently no treatments available to restrict the flow of water through AQP4 as all known inhibitors are either cytotoxic or non-specific, controlling the mechanisms involved in the regulation of AQP4 in the brain could provide a therapeutic solution to such diseases.
Using cell surface biontinylation of endogenous AQP4 in primary rat astrocytes followed by neutraavidin based ELISA we have shown that AQP4 cell surface localisation increases by 2.7 fold after 5 minutes hypotonic treatment at around 85 mOsm/kg H2O. We have also shown that this rapid relocalisation of AQP4 is regulated by PKA, calmodulin, extra-cellular calcium and actin.
In summary we have shown that rapid translocation of endogenous AQP4 occurs in primary rat astrocytes in response to hypotonic stimuli; this mechanism is PKA, calcium, actin and calmodulin dependant. AQP4 has the potential to provide a treatment for the development of brain oedema.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberT13-01B
Pages (from-to)E406-E407
Number of pages2
Issue numberSuppl.S1
Early online date15 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2015
Event12th European Meeting on Glial Cell Function in Health and Disease - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 15 Jul 201518 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

GLIA Bilbao 2015: Abstracts Oral Presentations, Posters, Indexes. 12th European Meeting on Glial Cell Function in Health and Disease, 15 - 18 July 2015, Bilbao (ES)


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