Aquaporins (AQPs) are a family of membrane channels facilitating diffusion of water and small solutes into and out of cells. Despite their biological relevance in osmoregulation and ubiquitous distribution throughout metazoans, the presence of AQPs in annelids has been poorly investigated. Here, we searched and annotated Aqp sequences in public genomes and transcriptomes of annelids, inferred their evolutionary relationships through phylogenetic analyses and discussed their putative physiological relevance. We identified a total of 401 Aqp sequences in 27 annelid species, including 367 sequences previously unrecognized as Aqps. Similar to vertebrates, phylogenetic tree reconstructions clustered these annelid Aqps in four clades: AQP1-like, AQP3-like, AQP8-like and AQP11-like. We found no clear indication of the existence of paralogs exclusive to annelids; however, several gene duplications seem to have occurred in the ancestors of some Sedentaria annelid families, mainly in the AQP1-like clade. Three of the six Aqps annotated in Alitta succinea, an estuarine annelid showing high salinity tolerance, were validated by RT-PCR sequencing, and their similarity to human AQPs was investigated at the level of “key” conserved residues and predicted three-dimensional structure. Our results suggest a diversification of the structures and functions of AQPs in Annelida comparable to that observed in other taxa.
- Alitta succinea
- Estuarine invertebrate