Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding how water channels- aquaporins - open and close may lead to new drugs

13.12.2005


Living organisms are dependent on being able to adjust the water content in their cells. This is achieved by regulating the flow of water through the cell membrane. Water is ‘turned on’ and ‘turned off’ by membrane proteins that function as water conduits and are called aquaporins. In the new issue of Nature, Professor Per Kjellbom and Associate Professor Urban Johanson, plant biochemists at Lund University, Sweden, describe how this takes place. The discovery is not only a breakthrough for pure science. It may also pave the way for a new type of drug and for new cosmetic products.



Peter Agre discovered the first aquaporin in 1992 in red blood cells and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize. Since then, 13 variants of aquaporin have been found in animals and humans and 35 in plants. There are thousands of these aquaporins in every cell membrane. Aquaporins contain a conduit that is so tiny that only a single water molecule at a time can pass through it. But this traffic can be lively indeed. In one second, several billion water molecules can get through. The direction of this water flow is contingent on the osmotic pressure. The water moves in a direction away from a low and toward a high concentration of salt and nutritional substances. But the conduit isn’t always open. The Lund scientists have found out how it opens and closes. This was done in collaboration with a team at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, under the direction of Richard Neutze, and with Emad Tajkhorshid at the University of Illinois.

“We have used yeast fungi to produce aquaporins,” says Per Kjellbom. With our method we can produce sufficient amounts of pure aquaporins to obtain the crystals needed for our analyses. It turns out that with the technology we used to crystallize aquaporins they were in the closed position. Previously it had only been possible to produce open aquaporins. This gave us an opportunity to compare open and closed aquaporins and to understand how this opening and closing works at the molecular level.


Even though there are different variants of aquaporin, they are all similar and work in largely the same way. They exist in every living organism, from bacteria to plants, animals, and humans and haven’t changed much in their evolution. The use of the regulatory mechanism has been patented. A newly established company is going to design new drugs and produce plants that are resistant to drought. Per Kjellbom gives a few examples:

“The kidneys are responsible for maintaining a water balance in the body. If we can identify a chemical compound that can close the aquaporins in the kidneys, this can be developed into a diuretic drug. By the same token, compounds that stabilize the closed structure could be used in cancer treatment. Open aquaporins are necessary for cells to be able to move and form new blood vessels, which tumors are very dependent on to grow. By closing these aquaporins, tumor growth and metastases could be inhibited. There are also a number of genetically inherited diseases that disturb the water balance in the body. The moisture balance in the skin is dependent on aquaporins, a fact that is used both in drugs and cosmetic products. These include antiperspirants and moisture-conserving skin creams to counteract aging.”

Göran Frankel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.lu.se

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Vanishing capillaries
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Inactivate vaccines faster and more effectively using electron beams

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>