ABSTRACT: Aquaporins are a family of ubiquitous membrane proteins that form a pore for the permeation of water. Both electron and X-ray crystallography played major roles in determining the atomic structures of a number of aquaporins. This review focuses on electron crystallography, and its contribution to the field of aquaporin biology. We briefly discuss electron crystallography and the two-dimensional crystallization process. We describe features of aquaporins common to both electron and X-ray crystallographic structures; as well as some structural insights unique to electron crystallography, including aquaporin junction formation and lipid-protein interactions.
Project description:Aquaporins and aquaglyceroporins form a family of pore proteins that facilitate the efficient and selective flux of small solutes across biological membranes. We studied the selectivity of aquaporin-1 (AQP1) and the bacterial glycerol facilitator, GlpF, for O(2), CO(2), NH(3), glycerol, urea, and water. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we calculated potentials of mean force for solute permeation along the aquaporin channels and compared them with the alternative pathway across the lipid bilayer. For small solutes permeating through AQP1, a remarkable anticorrelation between permeability and solute hydrophobicity was observed, whereas the opposite trend was observed for permeation through the membrane. This finding renders AQP1 a selective filter for small polar solutes, whereas GlpF was found to be highly permeable for small solutes and permeable for larger solutes. Surprisingly, not solute-channel but water-channel interactions were found to be the key determinant underlying the selectivity mechanism of aquaporins. Hence, a hydrophobic effect, together with steric restraints, determines the selectivity of aquaporins.
Project description:An emerging field in biomedical research is focusing on the roles of aquaporin water channels in parasites that cause debilitating or lethal diseases to their vertebrate hosts. The primary vectorial agents are hematophagous arthropods, including mosquitoes, flies, ticks and lice, however very little is known concerning the functional diversity of aquaporins in non-insect members of the Arthropoda. Here we conducted phylogenomic and functional analyses of aquaporins in the salmon louse, a marine ectoparasitic copepod that feeds on the skin and body fluids of salmonids, and used the primary structures of the isolated channels to uncover the genomic repertoires in Arthropoda.Genomic screening identified 7 aquaporin paralogs in the louse in contrast to 42 in its host the Atlantic salmon. Phylogenetic inference of the louse nucleotides and proteins in relation to orthologs identified in Chelicerata, Myriapoda, Crustacea and Hexapoda revealed that the arthropod aquaporin superfamily can be classified into three major grades (1) classical aquaporins including Big brain (Bib) and Prip-like (PripL) channels (2) aquaglyceroporins (Glp) and (3) unorthodox aquaporins (Aqp12-like). In Hexapoda, two additional subfamilies exist as Drip and a recently classified entomoglyceroporin (Eglp) group. Cloning and remapping the louse cDNAs to the genomic DNA revealed that they are encoded by 1-7 exons, with two of the Glps being expressed as N-terminal splice variants (Glp1_v1, -1_v2, -3_v1, -3_v2). Heterologous expression of the cRNAs in amphibian oocytes demonstrated that PripL transports water and urea, while Bib does not. Glp1_v1, -2, -3_v1 and -3_v2 each transport water, glycerol and urea, while Glp1_v2 and the Aqp12-like channels were retained intracellularly. Transcript abundance analyses revealed expression of each louse paralog at all developmental stages, except for glp1_v1, which is specific to preadult and adult males.Our data suggest that the aquaporin repertoires of extant arthropods have expanded independently in the different lineages, but can be phylogenetically classified into three major grades as opposed to four present in deuterostome animals. While the aquaporin repertoire of Atlantic salmon represents a 6-fold redundancy compared to the louse, the functional assays reveal that the permeation properties of the different crustacean grades of aquaporin are largely conserved to the vertebrate counterparts.
Project description:The structure of aquaporin-0 (AQP0) has recently been determined by electron crystallography of two-dimensional (2D) crystals and by X-ray crystallography of three-dimensional (3D) crystals. The electron crystallographic structure revealed nine lipids per AQP0 monomer, which form an almost complete bilayer. The lipids adopt a wide variety of conformations and tightly fill the space between adjacent AQP0 tetramers. The conformations of the lipid acyl chains appear to be determined not only by the protein surface but also by the acyl chains of adjacent lipid molecules. In the X-ray structure, the hydrophobic region of the protein is surrounded by a detergent micelle, with two ordered detergent molecules per AQP0 monomer. Despite the different environments, the electron crystallographic and X-ray structures of AQP0 are virtually identical, but they differ in the temperature factors of the atoms that either contact the lipids in the 2D crystals or are exposed to detergents in the 3D crystals. The temperature factors are higher in the X-ray structure, suggesting that the detergent-exposed AQP0 residues are less ordered than the corresponding ones contacting lipids in the 2D crystals. An examination of ordered detergent molecules in crystal structures of other aquaporins and of lipid molecules in 2D and 3D crystals of bacteriorhodopsin suggests that the increased conformational variability of detergent-exposed residues compared to lipid-contacting residues is a general feature.
Project description:Aquaporins are integral membrane proteins that facilitate the diffusion of water and other small, uncharged solutes across the cellular membrane and are widely distributed in organisms from humans to bacteria. However, the characteristics of prokaryotic aquaporins remain largely unknown. We investigated the distribution and sequence characterization of aquaporins in prokaryotic organisms and summarized the transport characteristics, physiological functions, and regulatory mechanisms of prokaryotic aquaporins. Aquaporin homologues were identified in 3315 prokaryotic genomes retrieved from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database, but the protein clustering pattern is not completely congruent with the phylogeny of the species that carry them. Moreover, prokaryotic aquaporins display diversified aromatic/arginine constriction region (ar/R) amino acid compositions, implying multiple functions. The typical water and glycerol transport characterization, physiological functions, and regulations have been extensively studied in Escherichia coli AqpZ and GlpF. A Streptococcus aquaporin has recently been verified to facilitate the efflux of endogenous H2O2, which not only contributes to detoxification but also to species competitiveness, improving our understanding of prokaryotic aquaporins. Furthermore, recent studies revealed novel regulatory mechanisms of prokaryotic aquaporins at post-translational level. Thus, we propose that intensive investigation on prokaryotic aquaporins would extend the functional categories and working mechanisms of these ubiquitous, intrinsic membrane proteins.
Project description:Aquaporins are transmembrane channels that facilitate the permeation of water and small, uncharged amphipathic molecules across cellular membranes. One distinct aquaporin subfamily contains pure water channels, whereas a second subfamily contains channels that conduct small alditols such as glycerol, in addition to water. Distinction between these substrates is central to aquaporin function, though the contributions of protein structural motifs required for selectivity are not yet fully characterized. To address this question, we sequentially engineered three signature amino acids of the glycerol-conducting subfamily into the Escherichia coli water channel aquaporin Z (AqpZ). Functional analysis of these mutant channels showed a decrease in water permeability but not the expected increase in glycerol conduction. Using X-ray crystallography, we determined the atomic resolution structures of the mutant channels. The structures revealed a channel surprisingly similar in size to the wild-type AqpZ pore. Comparison with measured rates of transport showed that, as the size of the selectivity filter region of the channel approaches that of water, channel hydrophilicity dominated water conduction energetics. In contrast, the major determinant of selectivity for larger amphipathic molecules such as glycerol was channel cross-section size. Finally, we find that, although the selectivity filter region is indeed central to substrate transport, other structural elements that do not directly interact with the substrates, such as the loop connecting helices M6 and M7, and the C loop between helices C4 and C5, play an essential role in facilitating selectivity.
Project description:Aquaporins are a family of water and small molecule channels found in organisms ranging from bacteria to animals. One of these channels, the E. coli protein aquaporin Z (AqpZ), has been shown to selectively conduct only water at high rates. We have expressed, purified, crystallized, and solved the X-ray structure of AqpZ. The 2.5 A resolution structure of AqpZ suggests aquaporin selectivity results both from a steric mechanism due to pore size and from specific amino acid substitutions that regulate the preference for a hydrophobic or hydrophilic substrate. This structure provides direct evidence on the molecular mechanisms of specificity between water and glycerol in this family of channels from a single species. It is to our knowledge the first atomic resolution structure of a recombinant aquaporin and so provides a platform for combined genetic, mutational, functional, and structural determinations of the mechanisms of aquaporins and, more generally, the assembly of multimeric membrane proteins.
Project description:Since the structure determination of bacteriorhodopsin in 1990, much progress has been made in the further development and use of electron crystallography. In this review, we provide a concise overview of the new developments in electron crystallography concerning 2D crystallization, data collection and data processing. Based on electron crystallographic work on bacteriorhodopsin, the acetylcholine receptor and aquaporins, we highlight the unique advantages and future perspectives of electron crystallography for the structural study of membrane proteins. These advantages include the visualization of membrane proteins in their native environment without detergent-induced artifacts, the trapping of different states in a reaction pathway by time-resolved experiments, the study of non-specific protein-lipid interactions and the characterization of the charge state of individual residues in membrane proteins.
Project description:The International Year of Crystallography saw the number of macromolecular structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank cross the 100000 mark, with more than 90000 of these provided by X-ray crystallography. The number of X-ray structures determined to sub-atomic resolution (i.e. ?1?Å) has passed 600 and this is likely to continue to grow rapidly with diffraction-limited synchrotron radiation sources such as MAX-IV (Sweden) and Sirius (Brazil) under construction. A dozen X-ray structures have been deposited to ultra-high resolution (i.e. ?0.7?Å), for which precise electron density can be exploited to obtain charge density and provide information on the bonding character of catalytic or electron transfer sites. Although the development of neutron macromolecular crystallography over the years has been far less pronounced, and its application much less widespread, the availability of new and improved instrumentation, combined with dedicated deuteration facilities, are beginning to transform the field. Of the 83 macromolecular structures deposited with neutron diffraction data, more than half (49/83, 59%) were released since 2010. Sub-mm(3) crystals are now regularly being used for data collection, structures have been determined to atomic resolution for a few small proteins, and much larger unit-cell systems (cell edges >100?Å) are being successfully studied. While some details relating to H-atom positions are tractable with X-ray crystallography at sub-atomic resolution, the mobility of certain H atoms precludes them from being located. In addition, highly polarized H atoms and protons (H(+)) remain invisible with X-rays. Moreover, the majority of X-ray structures are determined from cryo-cooled crystals at 100?K, and, although radiation damage can be strongly controlled, especially since the advent of shutterless fast detectors, and by using limited doses and crystal translation at micro-focus beams, radiation damage can still take place. Neutron crystallography therefore remains the only approach where diffraction data can be collected at room temperature without radiation damage issues and the only approach to locate mobile or highly polarized H atoms and protons. Here a review of the current status of sub-atomic X-ray and neutron macromolecular crystallography is given and future prospects for combined approaches are outlined. New results from two metalloproteins, copper nitrite reductase and cytochrome c', are also included, which illustrate the type of information that can be obtained from sub-atomic-resolution (?0.8?Å) X-ray structures, while also highlighting the need for complementary neutron studies that can provide details of H atoms not provided by X-ray crystallography.
Project description:The family of aquaporins, also called water channels or major intrinsic proteins, is characterized by six transmembrane domains that together facilitate the transport of water and a variety of low molecular weight solutes. They are found in all domains of life, but show their highest diversity in plants. Numerous studies identified aquaporins as important targets for improving plant performance under drought stress. The phylogeny of aquaporins is well established based on model species like Arabidopsis thaliana, which can be used as a template to investigate aquaporins in other species. In this study we comprehensively identified aquaporin encoding genes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), which is an important vegetable crop and also serves as a model for fleshy fruit development. We found 47 aquaporin genes in the tomato genome and analyzed their structural features. Based on a phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences the aquaporin genes were assigned to five subfamilies (PIPs, TIPs, NIPs, SIPs and XIPs) and their substrate specificity was assessed on the basis of key amino acid residues. As ESTs were available for 32 genes, expression of these genes was analyzed in 13 different tissues and developmental stages of tomato. We detected tissue-specific and development-specific expression of tomato aquaporin genes, which is a first step towards revealing the contribution of aquaporins to water and solute transport in leaves and during fruit development.
Project description:Classically, aquaporins are divided based on pore selectivity into water specific, orthodox aquaporins and solute-facilitating aquaglyceroporins, which conduct, e.g., glycerol and urea. However, more aquaporin-passing substrates have been identified over the years, such as the gasses ammonia and carbon dioxide or the water-related hydrogen peroxide. It became apparent that not all aquaporins clearly fit into one of only two subfamilies. Furthermore, certain aquaporins from both major subfamilies have been reported to conduct inorganic anions, such as chloride, or monoacids/monocarboxylates, such as lactic acid/lactate. Here, we summarize the findings on aquaporin anion transport, analyze the pore layout of such aquaporins in comparison to prototypical non-selective anion channels, monocarboxylate transporters, and formate-nitrite transporters. Finally, we discuss in which scenarios anion conducting aquaporins may be of physiological relevance.