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The discovery of aquaporins, water channels made of a transmembrane protein.

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In 1992 Agre and his colleagues conducted experiments to determine if CHIP28 functions in the transport of water across membranes. Because they already had isolated the gene that encodes CHIP28, they could make many copies of this gene in a test tube (in vitro) by using gene-cloning techniques (see Chapter 18). Starting with many copies of the gene in vitro, they added an enzyme to transcribe the gene into the RNA (called mRNA) that encodes the CHIP28 protein. This RNA was then injected into frog oocytes (chosen because frog oocytes are large and easy to inject, and lack proteins in their plasma membranes that allow the rapid movement of water). The injected RNA was translated to make CHIP28 proteins that inserted into the plasma membrane of the oocytes. After allowing sufficient time for this to occur, the oocytes were placed in a hypotonic medium. As a control, oocytes that had not been injected with CHIP28 mRNA were also exposed to a hypotonic medium.
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