Arsenic leads to autophagy of keratinocytes by increasing aquaporin 3 expression

Sebastian Yu, Ling Hau Li, Chih Hung Lee, Palaniraja Jeyakannu, Jeh Jeng Wang, Chien Hui Hong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Exposure to arsenic, a ubiquitous metalloid on Earth, results in human cancers. Skin cancer is the most common arsenical cancers. Both autophagy and aquaporin pathway are known to promote carcinogenesis. However, the mechanisms by which arsenic regulates aquaporin and autophagy in arsenical skin cancers remain elusive. This study aims to address how arsenic regulates aquaporin-3, the predominant aquaporin in epidermal keratinocytes, and how this process would induce autophagy. Quantitative real-time PCR and immunofluorescence were used to measure the expression of aquaporin 3 in arsenical skin cancers and arsenic-treated keratinocytes. Beclin-1 expression and autophagy were measured. We examined if blocking aquaporin 3 could interfere arsenic-induced autophagy in keratinocytes. Expression of aquaporin 3 is increased in arsenical cancers and in arsenic-treated keratinocytes. Arsenic induced autophagy in primary human keratinocytes. Notably, the arsenic-induced autophagy was inhibited by pretreatment of keratinocytes with aquaporin inhibitors Auphen or AgNO3, or RNA interference against aquaporin 3. The data indicates that the aquaporin 3 is an important cell membrane channel to mediate arsenic uptake and contributes to the arsenic-induced autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17523
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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