Aquaporin-4 expression is severely reduced in human sarcoglycanopathies and dysferlinopathies

Stefania Assereto, Mauro Mastrototaro, Silvia Stringara, Elisabetta Gazzerro, Paolo Broda, Grazia Paola Nicchia, Maria Svelto, Claudio Bruno, Vincenzo Nigro, M. P. Lisanti, Antonio Frigeri, Carlo Minetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is the major water channel expressed in fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers. AQP4 is reduced in Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophies, but not in caveolinopathies, thus suggesting an interaction with dystrophin or with members of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) rather than a nonspecific effect due to muscle membrane damage. To establish the role of sarcoglycans in AQP4 decrease occurring in muscular dystrophy, AQP4 expression was analyzed in muscle biopsies from patients affected by Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophies (LGMDs) 2C-F genetically confirmed. In all the LGMD 2C-F (2α-, 1β-, 2γ-, 1δ-deficiency), AQP4 was severely decreased. This effect was associated to a marked reduction in α1-syntrophin levels. In control muscle AQP4 did not show a direct interaction with any of the four sarcoglycans but, it co-immunoprecipitated with α1-syntrophin, indicating that this modular protein may link AQP4 levels with the DGC complex. To determine whether AQP4 expression could be affected in other LGMDs due to the defect of a membrane protein not associated to the dystrophin complex, we examined AQP4 expression in 6 patients affected by dysferlin deficiency genetically confirmed. All the patients displayed a reduction of the water channel, and AQP4 expression appeared to correlate with the severity of the muscle histopathological lesions. However, differently from what observed in the sarcoglycans, α1-syntrophin expression was normal or just slightly reduced. These results seem to indicate an additional mechanism of regulation of AQP4 levels in muscle cells. In accordance with a specific effect of membrane muscle disorders, AQP4 protein levels were not changed in 3 mitochondrial and 3 metabolic myopathies. In conclusion, AQP4 expression and membrane localization are markedly reduced in LGMD 2B-2F. The role of AQP4 in the degenerative mechanism occurring in these diseases will be the object of our future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2199-2207
Number of pages9
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2008


  • α1-syntropriin
  • Aquaporin-4
  • Dysferlin
  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Sarcoglycans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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