Aquaporins are membrane channels in the broad family of major intrinsic proteins (MIPs), with 13 classes showing tissue-specific distributions in humans. As key physiological modulators of water and solute homeostasis, mutations, and dysfunctions involving aquaporins have been associated with pathologies in all major organs. Increases in aquaporin expression are associated with greater severity of many cancers, particularly in augmenting motility and invasiveness for example in colon cancers and glioblastoma. However, potential roles of altered aquaporin (AQP) function in reproductive cancers have been understudied to date. Published work reviewed here shows distinct classes aquaporin have differential roles in mediating cancer metastasis, angiogenesis, and resistance to apoptosis. Known mechanisms of action of AQPs in other tissues are proving relevant to understanding reproductive cancers. Emerging patterns show AQPs 1, 3, and 5 in particular are highly expressed in breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers, consistent with their gene regulation by estrogen response elements, and AQPs 3 and 9 in particular are linked with prostate cancer. Continuing work is defining avenues for pharmacological targeting of aquaporins as potential therapies to reduce female and male reproductive cancer cell growth and invasiveness.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited