Indexed on: 19 Sep '12Published on: 19 Sep '12Published in: Glia
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is thought to be caused by immunoglobulin G autoantibodies (NMO-IgG) against astrocyte water channel aquaporin-4 (AQP4). A recent study (Hinson et al. (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109:1245-1250) reported that NMO-IgG inhibits AQP4 water permeability directly and causes rapid cellular internalization of the M1 but not M23 isoform of AQP4, resulting in AQP4 clustering, enhanced complement-dependent cytotoxicity, and tissue swelling. Here, we report evidence challenging this proposed mechanism of NMO-IgG-mediated pathology. We measured osmotic water permeability by stopped-flow light scattering on plasma membrane vesicles isolated from AQP4-expressing CHO cells, an approach that can detect changes in water permeability as small as 5% and is not confounded by internalization effects. We found similar single-molecule water permeability for M1-AQP4 tetramers and M23-AQP4 clusters (orthogonal arrays of particles, OAPs). Exposure of AQP4 to high concentrations of NMO-IgG from six seropositive NMO patients, and to high-affinity recombinant monoclonal NMO antibodies, did not reduce AQP4 water permeability. Also, NMO-IgG did not reduce water permeability in AQP4-reconstituted proteoliposomes. In transfected cells expressing M1- or M23-AQP4 individually, NMO-IgG caused more rapid internalization of M23- than M1-AQP4. In cells coexpressing both isoforms, M1- and M23-AQP4 comingled in OAPs that were internalized together in response to NMO-IgG. Super-resolution imaging and native gel electrophoresis showed that the size of AQP4 OAPs was not altered by NMO sera or recombinant NMO antibodies. We conclude that NMO-IgG does not: (i) inhibit AQP4 water permeability, (ii) cause preferential internalization of M1-AQP4, or (iii) cause intramembrane AQP4 clustering.