Expression of the yeast aquaporin Aqy2 affects cell surface properties under the control of osmoregulatory and morphogenic signalling pathways.
Aquaporins mediate rapid and selective water transport across biological membranes. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae possesses two aquaporins, Aqy1 and Aqy2. Here, we show that Aqy2 is involved in controlling cell surface properties and that its expression is controlled by osmoregulatory and morphogenic signalling pathways. Deletion of AQY2 results in diminished fluffy colony morphology while overexpression of AQY2 causes strong agar invasion and adherence to plastic surfaces. Hyper-osmotic stress inhibits morphological developments including the above characteristics as well as AQY2 expression through the osmoregulatory Hog1 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Moreover, two pathways known to control morphological developments are involved in regulation of AQY2 expression: the protein kinase A pathway derepresses AQY2 expression through the Sfl1 repressor, and the filamentous growth Kss1 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway represses AQY2 expression in a Kss1 activity-independent manner. The AQY2 expression pattern resembles in many ways that of MUC1/FLO11, which encodes a cell surface glycoprotein required for morphological developments. Our observations suggest a potential link between aquaporins and cell surface properties, and relate to the proposed role of mammalian aquaporins in tumour cell migration and invasion.