Prevention of skin tumorigenesis and impairment of epidermal cell proliferation by targeted aquaporin-3 gene disruption

Mariko Hara-Chikuma, A. S. Verkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Citations (Scopus)


Aquaporin-3 (AQP3) is a water/glycerol-transporting protein expressed strongly at the plasma membranes of basal epidermal cells in skin. We found that human skin squamous cell carcinoma strongly overexpresses AQP3. A novel role for AQP3 in skin tumorigenesis was discovered using mice with targeted AQP3 gene disruption. We found that AQP3-null mice were remarkably resistant to the development of skin tumors following exposure to a tumor initiator and phorbol ester promoter. Though tumor initiator challenge produced comparable apoptotic responses in wild-type and AQP3-null mice, promoter-induced cell proliferation was greatly impaired in the AQP3-null epidermis. Reductions of epidermal cell glycerol, its metabolite glycerol-3-phosphate, and ATP were found in AQP3 deficiency without impairment of mitochondrial function. Glycerol supplementation corrected the reduced proliferation and ATP content in AQP3 deficiency, with cellular glycerol, ATP, and proliferative ability being closely correlated. Our data suggest involvement of AQP3-facilitated glycerol transport in epidermal cell proliferation and tumorigenesis by a novel mechanism implicating cellular glycerol as a key determinant of cellular ATP energy. AQP3 may thus be an important determinant in skin tumorigenesis and hence a novel target for tumor prevention and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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