Folate (pteroylglutamate) uptake in human red blood cells, erythroid precursors and KB cells at high extracellular folate concentrations. Evidence against a role for specific folate-binding and transport proteins

A. C. Antony, M. A. Kane, S. R. Krishnan, R. S. Kincade, R. S. Verma

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Membrane-associated folate (pteroylglutamate, PteGlu)-binding proteins (FBPs) play an important role as PteGlu-transport proteins in malignant and normal human cells. Since high extracellular folate (PteGlu) concentrations (EFC) profoundly influenced uptake and toxicity of the anti-PteGlu methotrexate in malignant KB cells, we studied human cells to determine addional mechanisms for PteGlu uptake when the EFC was varied. At low EFC (<10 nM), the predominant mechanism for folate uptake in mature erythrocytes was through binding to externally oriented FBPs which were quantitatively insignificant (4-6 orders of magnitude lower) and of no apparent physiological relevance when compared with KB cells. However, the predominant mechanism of PteGlu accumulation at high EFC [10-250 nM] in intact erythrocytes and sealed right-side-out (RSO) ghosts was not FBP-mediated and non-specific. This conclusion was based on the findings that radiolabelled PteGlu uptake: (i) continued even in the presence of a 1000-fold excess of unlabelled PteGlu and was linear and not saturable up to 250 nM; (ii) was two-fold higher at pH 4.5 than 7.5; (iii) was less than 2-fold increased at 37°C compared with 4°C; and (iv) was unaffected after trypsin-mediated proteolysis of >75% FBPs. The [3H]PteGlu and 125I-PteGlu (histamine derivative) accumulated intracellularly through the non-specific PteGlu-uptake mechanism was unaltered biochemically and in a soluble compartment. Raising the EFC 500-fold higher than controls during erythropoiesis in vitro resulted in reversal of the expected anti-(placental folate-receptor)-antiserum-induced megaloblastic changes in orthochromatic normoblasts derived from burst-forming unit-erythroid colonies. Furthermore, at EFC >0.1 μM, KB-cell accumulation of [3H]PteGlu was also predominantly through a mechanism that did not involve specific FBPs. Thus, at high EFC, a major component of PteGlu transport in human cells is not mediated through FBPs and is likely to be a passive diffusion process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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