The International Journal of Romanian Society of Endocrinology / Registered in 1938

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January - March 2014, Volume 10, Issue 1

Benga G


Acta Endo (Buc) 2014, 10 (1): 1-8
doi: 10.4183/aeb.2014.1

The water channels milestones include: the vague idea of “hydrophilic pores” or “water-filled channels” in the red blood cell (RBC), the proposal that water channels (WCh) are accommodated in proteins, experiments associating WCh with the major RBC membrane protein called Band 3 (the anion exchanger), and the crucial experiment performed in 1985 by Benga group in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, proving the presence and location of a minor protein of the RBC membrane involved in water transport. In the landmark papers of 1986, Benga introduced the concept of the WCh being a protein specialized in water transport, i.e. a water channel protein (WCP). The first WCP discovered by our group was re-discovered in 1992 by Agre group. In the same year two other WCPs were discovered. The name aquaporins was proposed in 1993. In subsequent years hundreds of WCPS have been discovered in organisms from all kingdoms of life. WCPs are a family of membrane proteins, belonging to the Membrane Intrinsic Proteins superfamily. WCPs family include three subfamilies: 1) aquaporins (AQPs) which are mainly water selective channels; 2) aquaglyceroporins are permeable to water and to other small uncharged molecules; 3) S-aquaporins (subcellular or superaquaporins). Benga called aquaglyceroporins and S-aquaporins the “relatives of aquaporins”. Twelve WCPs were identified in the human body, having a great importance in a lot of physiological phenomena, as well as in pathological conditions, from well defined “water channelopathies” to a wide range of diseases. Benga propose the name of aquaporinology for the domain of biomedical and natural sciences dedicated to the integrated approach of WCPs (aquaporins and relatives), which is also a chapter of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Keywords: aquaporinology, aquaporins, aquaglyceroporins, water channel proteins, new scientific domain

Correspondence: Gheorghe Benga PhD, Aleea Muscel No. 19, Ap. 11, 400076 Cluj-Napoca, Romania, E-mail: