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Biochemistry. 1999 Jan 5;38(1):142-50.

Protein-mediated inward translocation of phospholipids occurs in both the apical and basolateral plasma membrane domains of epithelial cells.

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  • 1Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät I, Institut für Biologie/Biophysik, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


The translocation of spin-labeled analogues of phosphatidylcholine (4-doxylpentanoyl-PC, SL-PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (SL-PE), phosphatidylserine (SL-PS), and sphingomyelin (SL-SM) from the outer to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane bilayer was investigated in dog kidney MDCK II and human colon Caco-2 cells. Disappearance from the outer leaflet was assayed using back-exchange to serum albumin. Experiments with cells in suspension as well as with polarized cells on filters were performed at reduced temperatures (10 and 20 degreesC) to suppress endocytosis and hydrolysis of spin-labeled lipids. For both epithelial cell lines, a fast ATP-dependent inward movement of the aminophospholipids SL-PS and SL-PE was found, while SL-SM was only slowly internalized without any effect of ATP depletion. The kinetics of redistribution of SL-PC were clearly different between the two cell lines. In MDCK II cells, SL-PC was rapidly internalized in an ATP-dependent and N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive manner and at a rate similar to that of the aminophospholipids. In contrast, in Caco-2 cells the inward movement of SL-PC was much slower than that of the aminophospholipids, did not depend on ATP, and was not N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive. Inhibitor studies indicated that the outward-translocating multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein present in these cells did not affect the kinetics of inward translocation. Internalization was always similar on the apical and basolateral cell surface, suggesting the presence of the same phospholipid translocator(s) on both surface domains of epithelial cells. We propose that Caco-2 cells contain the well-known aminophospholipid translocase, while MDCK II cells contain either two translocases, namely, the aminophospholipid translocase and a phosphatidylcholine-specific translocase, or one translocase of a new type, translocating aminophospholipids as well as phosphatidylcholine.

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