Aquaporins (AQPs) are a family of water-selective transporting proteins with homology to the major intrinsic protein (MIP) of lens, that increase plasma membrane water permeability in secretory and absorptive cells. In astrocytes of the central nervous system (CNS), using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we previously detected AQP3, 5 and 8 mRNAs in addition to the reported AQP4 and 9. However the mechanisms regulating the expression of these AQPs are not known. In this study, we investigated the effects of a protein kinase C (PKC) activator on the expression of AQP4, 5 and 9 in cultured rat astrocytes. Treatment of the cells with TPA caused decreases in AQP4 and 9 mRNAs and proteins in time- and concentration-dependent manners. The TPA-induced decreases in AQP4 and 9 mRNAs were inhibited by PKC inhibitors. Moreover, prolonged treatment of the cells with TPA eliminated the subsequent decreases in AQP4 and 9 mRNAs caused by TPA. Pretreatment of cells with an inhibitor of protein synthesis, cycloheximide, did not inhibit the decreases in AQP4 and 9 mRNAs induced by TPA. These results suggest that signal transduction via PKC may play important roles in regulating the expression of AQP4 and 9.
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