Fast and Selective ammonia transport by aquaporin-8
Saparov, S M
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The transport of ammonia/ammonium is fundamental to nitrogen metabolism in all forms of life. So far, no clear picture has emerged as to whether a protein channel is capable of transporting exclusively neutral NH(3) while excluding H(+) and NH(4)(+). Our research is the first stoichiometric study to show the selective transport of NH(3) by a membrane channel. The purified water channel protein aquaporin-8 was reconstituted into planar bilayers, and the exclusion of NH(4)(+) or H(+) was established by ensuring a lack of current under voltage clamp conditions. The single channel water permeability coefficient of 1.2 x 10(-14) cm(3)/subunit/s was established by imposing an osmotic gradient across reconstituted planar bilayers, and resulting minute changes in ionic concentration close to the membrane surface were detected. It is more than 2-fold smaller than the single channel ammonia permeability (2.7 x 10(-14) cm(3)/subunit/s) that was derived by establishing a transmembrane ammonium concentration gradient and measuring the resulting concentration increases adjacent to the membrane. This permeability ratio suggests that electrically silent ammonia transport may be the main function of AQP8.