Regulation of Expression of Two Aquaporin Homologues in the Intestine of the European Eel: Effects of Seawater Acclimation and Cortisol Treatment

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American Journal of Physiology






Complementary DNAs encoding homologs of the mammalian aquaglyceroporins (termed AQPe) and aquaporin-1 isoforms (termed AQP1) were isolated from the European eel. The AQP amino acid sequences share 35–54% identity with other known human AQPs. Although AQPe mRNA expression was approximately equivalent along the entire length of the gut, AQP1 expression was the highest in the posterior/rectal segment. Seawater (SW) acclimation increased AQP1 mRNA abundance by 5- and 17-fold in the anterior, 14- and 23-fold in the mid-, and 9- and 7-fold in the posterior/rectal gut regions of yellow and silver eels, respectively. SW acclimation had an effect on AQPe mRNA expression only in the midintestine of silver eels, where a small but significant 1.7-fold increase in abundance was measured. Western blots using an eel AQP1-specific antibody identified the presence of a major immunoreactive 28-kDa protein, primarily within the posterior/rectal segment. A 3-wk SW transfer induced an increase in AQP1 protein abundance in all intestinal segments, with the posterior/rectal region still expressing protein levels ∼40- and 8-fold higher than the anterior and midsegments, respectively. Strong AQP1 immunofluorescence was detected within the vascular endothelium in both freshwater (FW)- and SW-acclimated eels and in the epithelial apical brush border in the posterior/rectal gut regions of SW-acclimated eels. Cortisol infusion into FW eels had no effect on intestinal AQPe mRNA expression but induced increases in AQP1 mRNA and protein levels. These results provide evidence for the presence of a SW-induced and steroid-regulated AQP water channel pathway within the intestine of the European eel.