The Role of Aquaporin 3 (AQP3) in Breast Cancer

  • Muhammad Arif

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The increasing prevalence of breast cancer (BC) in different parts of the world, particularly in the UK, highlights the importance of research into the aetiology and pathology of the disease. BC is the most common malignancy affecting women worldwide. Aquaporins (AQPs) are membrane protein channels that regulate cellular water flow. Recently, studies have demonstrated that expression of AQP3 is up-regulated in cancerous breast tissue. The present study examines the role of AQP3 in BC cell biology. Examination of clinical cases of BC showed higher AQP3 gene and protein expression in cancer tissues compared to healthy border tissues. In distinct clinicopathological groups however there were no differences observed with regards to AQP3 expression, suggesting that AQP3 expression may not be a predictor of lymph node infiltration or tumour grade. shRNA technology was used to knockdown gene expression of AQP3 in the invasive MDA-MB-231 BC cellular model. Cellular proliferation, migration, invasion, adhesion and response to the 5- fluorouracil (5-FU) based chemotherapy treatment were investigated in parental and knockdown cell line. AQP3 knockdown cells showed reduction in cellular proliferation, migration, invasion and increase in cell sensitivity to 5-FU compared with wild type (WT) or scrambled control (SC) cells. The effects of AQP3 knockdown on cellular glycolytic ability and ATP cellular content were quantified. Indirect glucose uptake was also measured by quantifying reconditioned media. AQP3 knockdown cells showed significantly lower levels of glucose uptake as compared to WT or SC. However there was no difference in the glycolytic ability and ATP content of the cells suggesting AQP3 has no role in cancer cell energetics. These data collectively suggest AQP3 expression is
associated with the BC disease clinically and plays a role in multiple important aspects of BC pathophysiology, thus AQP3 represents a novel target for therapeutic intervention.
Date of Award25 Jun 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJames E Brown (Supervisor) & Stephane Gross (Supervisor)


  • water channel
  • breast cancer
  • glycerol channel

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