Transport of riboflavin (RF) across both the brush border membrane (BBM) and basolateral membrane (BLM) of the polarized enterocyte occurs via specific carrier-mediated mechanisms. Although, three human riboflavin transporters (hRFTs), i.e., hRFT-1, hRFT-2 and hRFT-3 are expressed in the intestine, little is known about the cell surface domain(s) at which these specific hRFTs are expressed. Here, we used live cell confocal imaging of intestinal epithelial Caco-2 and renal MDCK cells to show that the hRFT-1 is mainly expressed at the BLM, hRFT-2 is exclusively expressed at the apical membrane, while hRFT-3 is mostly localized inside intracellular vesicular structures (with some expression at the BLM). Further the level of hRFT-2 mRNA expression in Caco-2 cells and in native human intestine is significantly higher than that of hRFT-1 and -3; hRFT-2 was also more efficient in transporting 3H-RF than hRFT-1 and -3. These findings implied an important role for hRFT-2 in intestinal RF uptake, a conclusion that was further supported by findings of hRFT-2 gene-specific siRNA knockdown investigation. These results show that members of the hRFT family are differentially expressed in polarized epithelia, and that the apically expressed hRFT-2 plays a key role in intestinal RF accumulation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health ( DK84094 to VSS, GM088790 to JSM and DK56061 and DK58057 to HMS).