Characterization of 3 different types of aquaporins in Carcinus maenas and their potential role in osmoregulation
Intertidal crustaceans like Carcinus maenas shift between an osmoconforming and osmoregulating state when inhabiting full-strength seawater and dilute environments, respectively. While the bodily fluids and environment of marine osmoconformers are approximately isosmotic, osmoregulating crabs inhabiting dilute environments maintain their bodily fluid osmolality above that of their environment by actively absorbing and retaining osmolytes (e.g., Na+, Cl-, urea) while eliminating excess water. Few studies have investigated the role of aquaporins (AQPs) in the osmoregulatory organs of crustaceans, especially within brachyuran species. In the current study, three different aquaporins were identified within a transcriptome of C. maenas, including a classical AQP (CmAQP1), an aquaglyceroporin (CmGLP1), and a big-brain protein (CmBIB1), all of which are expressed in the gills and the antennal glands. Functional expression of these aquaporins confirmed water transport capabilities for CmAQP1, CmGLP1, but not for CmBIB1, while CmGLP1 also transported urea. Higher relative CmAQP1 mRNA expression within tissues of osmoconforming crabs suggests the apical/sub-apically localized channel attenuates osmotic gradients created by non- osmoregulatory processes while its downregulation in dilute media reduces the water permeability of tissues to facilitate osmoregulation. Although hemolymph urea concentrations rose upon exposure to brackish water, urea was not detected in the final urine. Due to its urea- transport capabilities, CmGLP1 is hypothesized to be involved in a urea retention mechanism believed to be involved in the production of diluted urine. Overall, these results suggest that AQPs are involved in osmoregulation and provide a basis for future mechanistic studies investigating the role of AQPs in volume regulation in crustaceans.
Urine, Water transport, Urea transport, Crustaceans, Gills, Brain, Quantitative PCR, Heterologous protein expression, Antennal glands