Water transport proteins–aquaporins (AQPs) in cancer biology

Salah Dajani, Anand Saripalli and Neelam Sharma-Walia _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:36392-36405. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26351

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Salah Dajani1, Anand Saripalli1 and Neelam Sharma-Walia1

1H.M. Bligh Cancer Research Laboratories, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence to:

Neelam Sharma-Walia, email: [email protected]

Keywords: aquaporins; breast cancer; reactive oxygen species; antioxidant; inflammation

Received: September 05, 2018     Accepted: October 22, 2018     Published: November 20, 2018


As highly conserved ubiquitous proteins, aquaporins (AQPs) play an imperative role in the development and progression of cancer. By trafficking water and other small molecules, AQPs play a vital role in preserving the cellular environment. Due to their critical role in cell stability and integrity, it would make sense that AQPs are involved in cancer progression. When AQPs alter the cellular environment, there may be several downstream effects such as alterations in cellular osmolality, volume, ionic composition, and signaling pathways. Changes in the intracellular levels of certain molecules serving as second messengers are synchronized by AQPs. Thus AQPs regulate numerous downstream effector signaling molecules that promote cancer development and progression. In numerous cancer types, AQP expression has shown a correlation with tumor stage and prognosis. Furthermore, AQPs assist in angiogenic and oxidative stress related damaging processes critical for cancer progression. This indicates that AQP proteins may be a viable therapeutic target or biomarker of cancer prognosis.

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