Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)

AP2 adaptor complex mediates bile salt export pump internalization and modulates its hepatocanalicular expression and transport function.

PMID 22262466


The bile salt export pump (BSEP) mediates the biliary excretion of bile salts and its dysfunction induces intrahepatic cholestasis. Reduced canalicular expression of BSEP resulting from the promotion of its internalization is one of the causes of this disease state. However, the molecular mechanism underlying BSEP internalization from the canalicular membrane (CM) remains unknown. We have shown previously that 4-phenylbutyrate (4PBA), a drug used for ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTCD), inhibited internalization and subsequent degradation of cell-surface-resident BSEP. The current study found that 4PBA treatment decreased significantly the expression of α- and μ2-adaptin, both of which are subunits of the AP2 adaptor complex (AP2) that mediates clathrin-dependent endocytosis, in liver specimens from rats and patients with OTCD, and that BSEP has potential AP2 recognition motifs in its cytosolic region. Based on this, the role of AP2 in BSEP internalization was explored further. In vitro analysis with 3×FLAG-human BSEP-expressing HeLa cells and human sandwich-culture hepatocytes indicates that the impairment of AP2 function by RNA interference targeting of α-adaptin inhibits BSEP internalization from the plasma membrane and increases its cell-surface expression and transport function. Studies using immunostaining, coimmunoprecipitation, glutathione S-transferase pulldown assay, and time-lapse imaging show that AP2 interacts with BSEP at the CM through a tyrosine motif at the carboxyl terminus of BSEP and mediates BSEP internalization from the CM of hepatocytes. AP2 mediates the internalization and subsequent degradation of CM-resident BSEP through direct interaction with BSEP and thereby modulates the canalicular expression and transport function of BSEP. This information should be useful for understanding the pathogenesis of severe liver diseases associated with intrahepatic cholestasis.