Aquaporin (AQP) is a family of transmembrane proteins for water transport. Recent studies revealed that AQPs are likely to play a role in tumor progression and invasion. We aimed to examine the potential role of AQP5 in the progression of human breast cancer cells. Expression of AQP5 mRNA and protein was seen in human breast cancer cell line (both MCF7 and MDA-MB-231) by RT-PCR and immunoblotting analysis. Immunoperoxidase labeling of AQP5 was observed at ductal epithelial cells of human breast tissues. In benign tumor, AQP5 labeling was mainly seen at the apical domains of ductal epithelial cells. In contrast, in invasive ductal carcinoma, prominent AQP5 labeling was associated with cancer cells, whereas some ducts were unlabeled and apical polarity of AQP5 in ducts was lost. Cell proliferation (BrdU incorporation assay) and migration of MCF7 cells were significantly attenuated by lentivirus-mediated AQP5-shRNA transduction. Hyperosmotic stress induced by sorbitol treatment (100 mM, 24 h) reduced AQP5 expression in MCF7 cells, which was also associated with a significant reduction in cell proliferation and migration. Taken together, prominent AQP5 expression in breast cancer cells with the loss of polarity of ductal epithelial cells was seen during the progression of breast carcinoma. shRNA- or hyperosmotic stress-induced reduction in AQP5 expression of MCF7 cells was associated with significantly reduced cell proliferation and migration. In conclusion, AQP5 overexpression is likely to play a role in cell growth and metastasis of human breast cancer and could be a novel target for anti-breast cancer treatment.
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