• aquaporins;
  • AQP0;
  • AQP1;
  • MIP26;
  • membrane permeability;
  • cataract;
  • cell-to-cell adhesion


Aquaporin 0 (AQP0) and AQP1 are expressed in the lens, each in a different cell type, and their functional roles are not thoroughly understood. Our previous study showed that these two AQPs function as water transporters. In order to further understand the functional significance of these two different aquaporins in the lens, we investigated their initiation and continued expression. AQP0 transcript and protein were first detected at embryonic stage (E) 11.25 in the differentiating primary fiber cells of the developing lens; its synthesis continued through the adult stage in the secondary fiber cells. Low levels of AQP1 expression were first seen in lens anterior epithelial cells at E17.5; following postnatal day (P) 6.5, the expression gradually progressed towards the equatorial epithelial cells. In the postnatal lens, the increase in membrane water permeability of epithelial cells and lens transparency coincides with the increase in AQP1 expression. AQP1 expression reaches its peak at P30 and continues through the adult stage both in the anterior and equatorial epithelial cells. The enhancement in AQP1 expression concomitant with the increase in the size of the lens suggests the progression in the establishment of the lens microcirculatory system. In vitro and in vivo studies show that both aquaporins share at least one important function, which is water transport in the lens microcirculatory system. However, the temporal expression of these two AQPs suggests an apparently unique role/s in lens development and transparency. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the expression patterns of AQP0 and AQP1 during lens development and differentiation and their relation to lens transparency. Developmental Dynamics 236:1319–1328, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.