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Absence of orthogonal arrays in kidney, brain and muscle from transgenic knockout mice lacking water channel aquaporin-4
J.M. Verbavatz, T. Ma, R. Gobin, A.S. Verkman


Freeze-fracture electron microscopy (FFEM) of kidney collecting duct, muscle, astrocytes in brain, and other mammalian tissues has revealed regular square arrays of intramembrane particles called orthogonal arrays of particles (OAPs). Their possible role in membrane structure and transport have been proposed, and their absence or decrease has been noted in a variety of hereditary and acquired diseases. A transgenic mouse lacking water channel AQP4 was used to show that AQP4 is the OAP protein. FFEM was done on kidney, skeletal muscle, and brain from AQP4 wild-type [+/+], heterozygous [+/−] and knock-out [-/-] mice. The [-/-] mice did not express detectable AQP4 protein, but were grossly indistinguishable from [+/+] mice. FFEM was done on blinded samples of kidney, brain and muscle from 9 mice. In all 6 kidney samples from [+/+] and [+/−] mice, OAPs similar to those in AQP4-transfected CHO cells were found in basolateral membranes of collecting duct principal cells. In all muscle and brain samples from [+/+] and [+/−] mice, OAPs of identical ultrastructure to those in kidney were seen, but in smaller patch sizes. OAPs were not seen in any sample from [-/-] mice. Label-fracture analysis using a peptide-derived AQP4 polyclonal antibody showed immunogold labeling of OAPs in AQP4-expressing CHO cells. These studies provide direct evidence that AQP4 is required for formation of OAPs and is a component of OAPs, thus establishing the identity and function of OAPs.