PloS one

Detergent screening and purification of the human liver ABC transporters BSEP (ABCB11) and MDR3 (ABCB4) expressed in the yeast Pichia pastoris.

PMID 23593265


The human liver ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters bile salt export pump (BSEP/ABCB11) and the multidrug resistance protein 3 (MDR3/ABCB4) fulfill the translocation of bile salts and phosphatidylcholine across the apical membrane of hepatocytes. In concert with ABCG5/G8, these two transporters are responsible for the formation of bile and mutations within these transporters can lead to severe hereditary diseases. In this study, we report the heterologous overexpression and purification of human BSEP and MDR3 as well as the expression of the corresponding C-terminal GFP-fusion proteins in the yeast Pichia pastoris. Confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that BSEP-GFP and MDR3-GFP are localized in the plasma membrane of P. pastoris. Furthermore, we demonstrate the first purification of human BSEP and MDR3 yielding ∼1 mg and ∼6 mg per 100 g of wet cell weight, respectively. By screening over 100 detergents using a dot blot technique, we found that only zwitterionic, lipid-like detergents such as Fos-cholines or Cyclofos were able to extract both transporters in sufficient amounts for subsequent functional analysis. For MDR3, fluorescence-detection size exclusion chromatography (FSEC) screens revealed that increasing the acyl chain length of Fos-Cholines improved monodispersity. BSEP purified in n-dodecyl-β-D-maltoside or Cymal-5 after solubilization with Fos-choline 16 from P. pastoris membranes showed binding to ATP-agarose. Furthermore, detergent-solubilized and purified MDR3 showed a substrate-inducible ATPase activity upon addition of phosphatidylcholine lipids. These results form the basis for further biochemical analysis of human BSEP and MDR3 to elucidate the function of these clinically relevant ABC transporters.