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Kati Juuti-Uusitalo, Christine Delporte, Francoise Grégoire, Jason Perret, Heini Huhtala, Virpi Savolainen, Soile Nymark, Jari Hyttinen, Hannu Uusitalo, Francois Willermain, Heli Skottman; Aquaporin Expression and Function in Human Pluripotent Stem Cell–Derived Retinal Pigmented Epithelial Cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(5):3510-3519. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-11800.
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Aquaporins (AQPs), a family of transmembrane water channel proteins, are essential for allowing passive water transport through retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells. Even though human native RPE cells and immortalized human RPEs have been shown to express AQPs, the expression of AQPs during the differentiation in stem cell–derived RPE remains to be elucidated.
In human embryonic (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)–derived RPE cells, the expression of several AQPs was determined by quantitative real-time PCR and the localization of AQP1 was assessed with confocal microscopy. The functionality of AQP water channels was determined by cell volume assay in hESC-derived RPE cells.
AQP1, AQP3, AQP4, AQP5, AQP6, AQP7, AQP10, AQP11, and AQP12 were expressed in hESC- and hiPSC-derived RPE cells. Furthermore, the expression of AQP1 and AQP11 genes were significantly upregulated during the maturation of both hESC and iPSC into RPE. Confocal microscopy shows the expression of AQP1 at the apical plasma membrane of polarized cobblestone hESC- and hiPSC-derived RPE cells. Lastly, aquaporin inhibitors significantly reduced AQP functionality in hESC-RPE cells.
hESC-RPE and hiPSC-RPE cells express several AQP genes, which are functional in mature hESC-derived RPE cells. The localization of AQP1 on the apical plasma membrane in mature RPE cells derived from both hESC and hiPSC suggests its functionality. These data propose that hESC- and hiPSC-derived RPE cells, grown and differentiated under serum-free conditions, resemble their native counterpart in the human eye.
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