Single-molecule imaging of aquaporin-4 array dynamics in astrocytes

Anna-Lena Zepernick, Vanya Metodieva, Noelia Pelegrina-Hidalgo, Anna H. Lippert, Mathew H. Horrocks, Juan A. Varela*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) facilitates water transport across astrocytic membranes in the brain, forming highly structured nanometric arrays. AQP4 has a central role in regulating cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation and facilitating the clearance of solutes from the extracellular space of the brain. Adrenergic signaling has been shown to modulate the volume of the extracellular space of the brain via AQP4 localized at the end-feet of astrocytes, but the mechanisms by which AQP4 regulates CSF inflow and outflow in the brain remain elusive. Using advanced imaging techniques, including super-resolution microscopy and single-molecule tracking, we investigated the hypothesis that β-adrenergic receptor activation induces cellular changes that regulate AQP4 array size and mobility, thus influencing water transport in the brain. We report that the β-adrenergic agonist, isoproterenol hydrochloride, decreases AQP4 array size and enhances its membrane mobility, while hyperosmotic conditions induce the formation of larger, less mobile arrays. These findings reveal that AQP4 arrays are dynamic structures, responsive to adrenergic signals and osmotic changes, highlighting a novel regulatory mechanism of water transport in the brain. Our results provide insights into the molecular control of CSF circulation and extracellular brain space volume, laying the groundwork for understanding the relationship between astrocyte water transport, sleep physiology, and neurodegeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9576-9582
Number of pages7
Issue number19
Early online date29 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024


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