Preservation of folate transport activity with a low-pH optimum in rat IEC-6 intestinal epithelial cell lines that lack reduced folate carrier function

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Intestinal folate transport has been well characterized, and rat small intestinal epithelial (IEC-6) cells have been used as a model system for the study of this process on the cellular level. The major intestinal folate transport activity has a low-pH optimum, and the current paradigm is that this process is mediated by the reduced folate carrier (RFC), despite the fact that this carrier has a neutral pH optimum in leukemia cells. The current study addressed the question of whether constitutive low-pH folate transport activity in IEC-6 cells is mediated by RFC. Two independent IEC-6 sublines, IEC-6/A4 and IEC-6/PT1, were generated by chemical mutagenesis followed by selective pressure with antifolates. In IEC-6/A4 cells, a premature stop resulted in truncation of RFC at Gln420. A green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion with the truncated protein was not stable. In IEC-6/PT1 cells, Ser135 was deleted, and this alteration resulted in the failure of localization of the GFP fusion protein in the plasma membrane. In both cell lines, methotrexate (MTX) influx at neutral pH was markedly decreased compared with wild-type IEC-6 cells, but MTX influx at pH 5.5 was not depressed. Transient transfection of the GFP-mutated RFC constructs into RFC-null HeLa cells confirmed their lack of transport function. These results indicate that in IEC-6 cells, folate transport at neutral pH is mediated predominantly by RFC; however, the folate transport activity at pH 5.5 is RFC independent. Hence, constitutive folate transport activity with a low-pH optimum in this intestinal cell model is mediated by a process entirely distinct from that of RFC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C65-C71
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1 57-1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2005



  • Folate absorption
  • Folic acid
  • Methotrexate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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