Role of protein conformation and aggregation in pumping water in and out of a cell

I. L. Cameron, K. M. Kanal, G. D. Fullerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Dialysis cassettes containing BSA solutions were used to simulate passive in vivo conditions to assess the effect of protein conformation and aggregation on cell water content. The cassettes were suspended in dextran solutions to provide a range of fixed osmotic stress values simulating blood plasma. The system was placed on a shaker for 24 h to attain equilibrium. Four manipulation methods; pH, cosolute salt concentration, e.g. NaCl, temperature annealing and urea concentration denaturant were varied to produce well-known manipulations of BSA conformation. It was observed that the cell water content varied from +14% to about -13% with changes in protein conformation and aggregation. The findings demonstrate that a change in protein conformation and aggregation, pumps water in and out of a cell to maintain equilibrium % water content matching the protein conformational hydration parameter. This concept supplements existing theories on cell volume regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
JournalCell Biology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Cell water
  • Interfacial water
  • Osmosis
  • Osmotically unresponsive water
  • Protein conformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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