Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 62, Issue 1–2, pp 305–323 | Cite as

Localization and Quantification of Plasma Membrane Aquaporin Expression in Maize Primary Root: A Clue to Understanding their Role as Cellular Plumbers

  • Charles Hachez
  • Menachem Moshelion
  • Enric Zelazny
  • Damien Cavez
  • François ChaumontEmail author
Original Paper


Water movement across root tissues occurs by parallel apoplastic, symplastic, and transcellular pathways that the plant can control to a certain extent. Because water channels or aquaporins (AQPs) play an important role in regulating water flow, studies on AQP mRNA and protein expression in different root tissues are essential. Here, we quantified and localized the expression of Zea mays plasma membrane AQPs (ZmPIPs) in primary root tip using in situ and quantitative RT-PCR and immunodetection approaches. All ZmPIP genes except ZmPIP2;7 were expressed in primary roots. Expression was found to be dependent on the developmental stage of the root, with, in general, an increase in expression towards the elongation and mature zones. Two genes, ZmPIP1;5 and ZmPIP2;5, showed the greatest increase in expression (up to 11- and 17-fold, respectively) in the mature zone, where they accounted for 50% of the total expressed ZmPIPs. The immunocytochemical localization of ZmPIP2;1 and ZmPIP2;5 in the exodermis and endodermis indicated that they are involved in root radial water movement. In addition, we detected a polar localization of ZmPIP2;5 to the external periclinal side of epidermal cells in root apices, suggesting an important role in water uptake from the root surface. Finally, protoplast swelling assays showed that root cells display a variable, but globally low, osmotic water permeability coefficient (P f < 10 µm/s). However, the presence of a population of cells with a higher P f (up to 26 µm/s) in mature zone of the root might be correlated with the increased expression of several ZmPIP genes.


Aquaporin PIP mRNA and protein expression Root water movement 



abscisic acid




root hydraulic conductivity


osmotic water permeability coefficient


reverse transcription-PCR


Zea mays plasma membrane intrinsic protein


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This work was supported by grants from the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS), the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme—Belgian Science Policy, and the “Communauté française de Belgique—Actions de Recherches Concertées”. F.C. is a Senior Research Associate and C.H. a Research Fellow at the FNRS; E.Z. is a Research Fellow at the Fonds pour la Formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture. We thank R. Jung (Pioneer Hi-Bred International) for providing ZmPIP cDNAs, M. Maeshima (Nagoya University, Japan) and M. Boutry (Université catholique de Louvain) for supplying the anti-RsPIP1 and anti-PMA antibodies, respectively, and T. Trombik and E. Peeters (Université catholique de Louvain) for supplying pGex-KG’ plasmid. We are very grateful to X. Draye and T. Lavigne for the use of the aeroponics facility and advices, and to M. Boutry and X. Draye for their critical reading of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11103_2006_Article_9022_MOESM1_ESM.doc (154 kb)
Tables (DOC 154 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Hachez
    • 1
  • Menachem Moshelion
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enric Zelazny
    • 1
  • Damien Cavez
    • 1
  • François Chaumont
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Unité de Biochimie physiologiqueInstitut des Sciences de la Vie, Université catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.The Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment Quality ScienceThe Hebrew UniversityRehovotIsrael

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