Many of the compounds taken up by the liver are organic anions that circulate tightly bound to protein carriers such as albumin. The fenestrated sinusoidal endothelium of the liver permits these compounds to have access to hepatocytes. Studies to characterize hepatic uptake of organic anions through kinetic analyses, suggested that it was carrier-mediated. Attempts to identify specific transporters by biochemical approaches were largely unsuccessful and were replaced by studies that utilized expression cloning. These studies led to identification of the organic anion transport proteins (oatps), a family of 12 transmembrane domain glycoproteins that have broad and often overlapping substrate specificities. The oatps mediate Na+-independent organic anion uptake. Other studies identified a seven transmembrane domain glycoprotein, Na+/taurocholate transporting protein (ntcp) as mediating Na+-dependent uptake of bile acids as well as other organic anions. Although mutations or deficiencies of specific members of the oatp family have been associated with transport abnormalities, there have been no such reports for ntcp, and its physiologic role remains to be determined, although expression of ntcp in vitro recapitulates the characteristics of Na+-dependent bile acid transport that is seen in vivo. Both ntcp and oatps traffic between the cell surface and intracellular vesicular pools. These vesicles move through the cell on microtubules, using the microtubule based motors dynein and kinesins. Factors that regulate this motility are under study and may provide a unique mechanism that can alter the plasma membrane content of these transporters and consequently their accessibility to circulating ligands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)