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Larval lepidopteran and coleopteran insects have evolved a specialised cryptonephric system in the hindgut in which water is constantly and rapidly taken up before defecation. In the silkworm, Bombyx mori, the movement of water through the epithelia within the cryptonephric rectal complex is likely facilitated by the two aquaporins, AQP-Bom1 and AQP-Bom3. Both are functionally water-specific and are predominantly expressed in the hindgut (colon and rectum). Phylogenetically, AQP-Bom1 and AQP-Bom3 belong to the DRIP (Drosophila integral protein) and PRIP (Pyrocoelia rufa integral protein) subfamilies, respectively, of the insect AQP clade. In immunoblot analyses using antipeptide antibodies for each Bombyx AQP, the predicted molecular mass for the respective AQPs were around 25 kDa, and further indicated that both tended to be oligomerised as a homotetramer (∼110 kDa). AQP-Bom1 [DRIP] was exclusively expressed at the apical plasma membrane of colonic and rectal epithelial cells, whereas AQP-Bom3 [PRIP] was expressed at the basal plasma membrane of these cells. This polarised localisation of DRIP/PRIP was also observed in the outer cryptonephric Malpighian tubules (outer cMT) and in the six tubules just outside the cryptonephric rectal complex (rectal lead MT). In the rectal epithelia, water is transported from the rectal lumen to the perinephric space and then deposited into the lumen of the outer cMT; the water then goes through the tubular lumen to exit the complex and is finally transported across the rectal lead MT. We conclude that rectal water retrieval into the haemocoele occurs at the very limited region of the water-permeable sites in MT epithelia after passing the rectal and cMT epithelia and that the high osmotic permeability is due to the presence of two distinct water-specific AQPs (DRIP and PRIP) in the epithelial cells of lepidopteran hindgut. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Masaaki Azuma, Tomone Nagae, Mariya Maruyama, Naoya Kataoka, Seiji Miyake. Two water-specific aquaporins at the apical and basal plasma membranes of insect epithelia: molecular basis for water recycling through the cryptonephric rectal complex of lepidopteran larvae. Journal of insect physiology. 2012 Apr;58(4):523-33

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PMID: 22285686

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