Learn from the climber’s quick-closing water valves

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The living environment of fish can vary greatly. between salt and fresh water and sometimes even between wet and dry. Some species of fish can survive on dry land for up to a week. These changing conditions require advanced hydroponic plants in their cells.

For cells in all animals, it is essential to maintain a good water balance. If too little water enters the cell through the membrane, the cell can open special water channels to let in more water.

The researchers were curious about the aqueducts of the climber: a fish that sometimes spends time on land. He suspected that if you can switch between these extreme conditions, you must also have water channels that can respond to them.

And this is also what they saw: a unique type of water channel – which is actually a protein – in the gills and skin of the fish that can open and close very quickly thanks to a special valve. Understanding how this works at a molecular level could lead to a new type of medicine.

For example, the water channels in brain cells function less well in early Alzheimer’s disease. This can also be an interesting finding in diseases or situations where you have to, for example, very quickly lower the pressure in the brain.

Read more: The quick shut off valve allows fish to quickly regulate the water in their cells.

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