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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):G73-7. Epub 2003 Mar 19.

Biotin uptake by human intestinal and liver epithelial cells: role of the SMVT system.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center-151, Long Beach, CA 90822, USA.


It has been well established that human intestinal and liver epithelial cells transport biotin via an Na+-dependent carrier-mediated mechanism. The sodium-dependent multivitamin transport (SMVT), a biotin transporter, is expressed in both cell types. However, the relative contribution of SMVT toward total carrier-mediated uptake of physiological (nanomolar) concentrations of biotin by these cells is not clear. Addressing this issue is important, especially in light of the recent identification of a second human high-affinity biotin uptake mechanism that operates at the nanomolar range. Hence, we employed a physiological approach of characterizing biotin uptake by human-derived intestinal Caco-2 and HepG2 cells at the nanomolar concentration range. We also employed a molecular biology approach of selectively silencing the endogenous SMVT of these cells with specific small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), then examining carrier-mediated biotin uptake. The results showed that in both Caco-2 and HepG2 cells, the initial rate of biotin uptake as a function of concentration over the range of 0.1 to 50 nM to be linear. Furthermore, we found that the addition of 100 nM unlabeled biotin, desthiobiotin, or pantothenic acid to the incubation medium had no effect on the uptake of 2.6 nM [3H]biotin. Pretreatment of Caco-2 and HepG2 cells with SMVT specific siRNAs substantially reduced SMVT mRNA and protein levels. In addition, carrier-mediated [3H]biotin (2.6 nM) uptake by Caco-2 and HepG2 cells was severely (P 0.01) inhibited by the siRNAs pretreatment. These results demonstrate that the recently described human high-affinity biotin uptake system is not functional in intestinal and liver epithelial cells. In addition, the results provide strong evidence that SMVT is the major (if not the only) biotin uptake system that operates in these cells.

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