Research Interests

Transport of water across cell membranes has long been regarded as a fundamental problem in physiology. This occurs through aquaporins, a large family of membrane water channel proteins discovered serendipitously in my laboratory. Of 10 presently recognized mammalian aquaporins each is expressed at specific cellular locations and participates in distinct physiological processes and clinical disorders. Expressed in multiple tissues, human AQP1 is the red-cell Co antigen, confers constitutive water reabsorption in the proximal tubules of kidney and mediates transport of water between capillaries into surrounding tissues. AQP2 is the vasopressin-regulated water channel of distal kidney, and mutations in human AQP2 result in nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (inability to concentrate urine). Mutant forms of human AQP0 have been identified in some forms of congenital cataracts, and human AQP5 appears mistargeted in salivary and lacrimal glands from patients with Sjogren's syndrome (severe dry eye and dry mouth). Potential involvement of other aquaporins in clinical medicine is being pursued, and new aquaporins are being identified in mammals, microbes, and plants. Most aquaporins are simple water-selective pores, but some have broader permeabilities and molecular regulatory features. Understanding these functions may now be possible with the atomic structure of aquaporin proteins. The agre laboratory discovered the aquaporin water channels - the proteins that move water into and out of cells. Aquaporins participate in generation of biological fluids - spinal fluids, tears, sweat, pulmonary secretions, and urine. Aquaporins are involved in many clinical disorders - brain edema, dry eye, cataract, and renal concentration defects. Aquaporins are also found throughout the natural world including plants and microorganisms. The laboratory is currently investigating aquaporins in human disease. Policy - Active in human rights and science issues in the Middle East, Agre chairs the committee on Human Rights of the National Academies. Medical doctor specialized in internal medicine and hematology. Cell biologist. University Administrator. Science Activist. Wilderness canoeist.

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Primary Section

Section 23: Physiology and Pharmacology

Secondary Section

Section 42: Medical Physiology and Metabolism