Water transport between CNS compartments: functional and molecular interactions between aquaporins and ion channels.

Neuroscience

PubMedID: 20026249

Benfenati V, Ferroni S. Water transport between CNS compartments: functional and molecular interactions between aquaporins and ion channels. Neuroscience. 2010;168(4):926-40.
The physiological ability of the mammalian CNS to integrate peripheral stimuli and to convey information to the body is tightly regulated by its capacity to preserve the ion composition and volume of the perineuronal milieu. It is well known that astroglial syncytium plays a crucial role in such process by controlling the homeostasis of ions and water through the selective transmembrane movement of inorganic and organic molecules and the equilibration of osmotic gradients. Astrocytes, in fact, by contacting neurons and cells lining the fluid-filled compartments, are in a strategic position to fulfill this role. They are endowed with ion and water channel proteins that are localized in specific plasma membrane domains facing diverse liquid spaces. Recent data in rodents have demonstrated that the precise dynamics of the astroglia-mediated homeostatic regulation of the CNS is dependent on the interactions between water channels and ion channels, and their anchoring with proteins that allow the formation of macromolecular complexes in specific cellular domains. Interplay can occur with or without direct molecular interactions suggesting the existence of different regulatory mechanisms. The importance of molecular and functional interactions is pinpointed by the numerous observations that as consequence of pathological insults leading to the derangement of ion and volume homeostasis the cell surface expression and/or polarized localization of these proteins is perturbed. Here, we critically discuss the experimental evidence concerning: (1) molecular and functional interplay of aquaporin 4, the major aquaporin protein in astroglial cells, with potassium and gap-junctional channels that are involved in extracellular potassium buffering. (2) the interactions of aquaporin 4 with chloride and calcium channels regulating cell volume homeostasis. The relevance of the crosstalk between water channels and ion channels in the pathogenesis of astroglia-related acute and chronic diseases of the CNS is also briefly discussed.