Discovery of the aquaporins and development of the field.
The study of water transport began long before the molecular identification of water channels with studies of water-permeable tissues. The discovery of the first aquaporin, AQP1, occurred during experiments focused on the identity of the Rh blood group antigens. Since then the field has expanded dramatically to study aquaporins in all types of organisms. In mammals, some of the aquaporins transport only water. However, there are some family members that collectively transport a diverse set of solutes. The aquaporins can be regulated by factors that affect channel permeability or subcellular localization. An extensive set of studies examines the physiological role of many of the mammalian aquaporins. However, much is still to be discovered about the physiological role of this membrane protein family.
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