Immunolocalization of aquaporins 1, 2 and 7 in rete testis, efferent ducts, epididymis and vas deferens of adult dog
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The transepithelial movement of water into the male reproductive tract is an essential process for normal male fertility. Protein water channels, referred to as aquaporins (AQPs), are involved in increasing the osmotic permeability of membranes. This study has examined the expression of AQP1, AQP2, and AQP7 in epithelial cells in adult dog efferent ducts, epididymis, and vas deferens. Samples of dog male reproductive tract comprising fragments of the testis, initial segment, caput, corpus and cauda epididymidis, and vas deferens were investigated by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting procedures to show the localization and distribution of the AQPs. AQP1 was noted in rete testis, in efferent ducts, and in vessels in the intertubular space, suggesting that AQP1 participated in the absorption of the large amount of testicular fluid occurring characteristically in the efferent ducts. AQP2 expression was found in the rete testis, efferent ducts and epididymis, whereas AQP7 was expressed in the epithelium of the proximal regions of the epididymis and in the vas deferens. This is the first time that AQP2 and AQP7 have been observed in these regions of mammalian excurrent ducts, but their functional role in the dog male reproductive tract remains unknown. Investigations of AQP biology could be relevant for clinical studies of the male reproductive tract and to technologies for assisted procreation.