Atypical Substrates of the Organic Cation Transporter 1
The human organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1) is expressed in the liver and mediates hepatocellular uptake of organic cations. However, some studies have indicated that OCT1 could transport neutral or even anionic substrates. This capability is interesting concerning protein-substrate interactions and the clinical relevance of OCT1. To better understand the transport of neutral, anionic, or zwitterionic substrates, we used HEK293 cells overexpressing wild-type OCT1 and a variant in which we changed the putative substrate binding site (aspartate474) to a neutral amino acid. The uncharged drugs trimethoprim, lamivudine, and emtricitabine were good substrates of hOCT1. However, the uncharged drugs zalcitabine and lamotrigine, and the anionic levofloxacin, and prostaglandins E2 and F2α, were transported with lower activity. Finally, we could detect only extremely weak transport rates of acyclovir, ganciclovir, and stachydrine. Deleting aspartate474 had a similar transport-lowering effect on anionic substrates as on cationic substrates, indicating that aspartate474 might be relevant for intra-protein, rather than substrate-protein, interactions. Cellular uptake of the atypical substrates by the naturally occurring frequent variants OCT1*2 (methionine420del) and OCT1*3 (arginine61cysteine) was similarly reduced, as it is known for typical organic cations. Thus, to comprehensively understand the substrate spectrum and transport mechanisms of OCT1, one should also look at organic anions.