The permeability to water and cryoprotectants of the plasma membrane is crucial to the successful cryopreservation of embryos. Previously, we have shown in mouse morulae that water and glycerol move across the plasma membrane by facilitated diffusion, and we have suggested that aquaporin 3 plays an important role in their movement. In the present study, we clarify the contribution of aquaporin 3 to the movement of water and various cryoprotectants in mouse morulae by measuring the Arrhenius activation energies for permeability to cryoprotectants and water, through artificial expression of aquaporin 3 using Aqp3 cRNA in mouse oocytes, and by suppressing the expression of aquaporin 3 in morulae by injecting double-stranded RNA of Aqp3 at the one-cell zygote stage. The results show that aquaporin 3 plays an important role in the facilitated diffusion of water, glycerol, and ethylene glycol, but not of acetamide and dimethylsulfoxide. On the other hand, in a propylene glycol solution, aquaporin 3 in morulae transported neither propylene glycol nor water by facilitated diffusion, probably because of strong water-solute interactions. These results provide important information for understanding the permeability of the plasma membrane of the mouse embryo.
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Vol. 77 • No. 2