Water fluxes through aquaporin-9 prime epithelial cells for rapid wound healing.
Karlsson T., Lagerholm BC., Vikström E., Loitto VM., Magnusson K-E.
Cells move along surfaces both as single cells and multi-cellular units. Recent research points toward pivotal roles for water flux through aquaporins (AQPs) in single cell migration. Their expression is known to facilitate this process by promoting rapid shape changes. However, little is known about the impact on migrating epithelial sheets during wound healing and epithelial renewal. Here, we investigate and compare the effects of AQP9 on single cell and epithelial sheet migration. To achieve this, MDCK-1 cells stably expressing AQP9 were subjected to migration assessment. We found that AQP9 facilitated cell locomotion at both the single and multi-cellular level. Furthermore, we identified major differences in the monolayer integrity and cell size upon expression of AQP9 during epithelial sheet migration, indicating a rapid volume-regulatory mechanism. We suggest a novel mechanism for epithelial wound healing based on AQP-induced swelling and expansion of the monolayer.