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J Hepatol. 2012 May;56(5):1136-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.11.021. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

4-Phenylbutyrate modulates ubiquitination of hepatocanalicular MRP2 and reduces serum total bilirubin concentration.

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The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.



Multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (in humans, MRP2; in rodents, Mrp2) mediates biliary excretion of bilirubin glucuronides. Therefore, upregulation of MRP2/Mrp2 expression may improve hyperbilirubinemia. We investigated the effects of 4-phenylbutyrate (4PBA), a drug used to treat ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTCD), on the cell surface expression and transport function of MRP2/Mrp2 and serum T-Bil concentration.


MRP2-expressing MDCKII (MRP2-MDCKII) cells and rats were studied to explore the change induced by 4PBA treatment in the cell surface expression and transport function of MRP2/Mrp2 and its underlying mechanism. Serum and liver specimens from OTCD patients were analyzed to examine the effect of 4PBA on hepatic MRP2 expression and serum T-Bil concentration in humans.


In MRP2-MDCKII cells and the rat liver, 4PBA increased the cell surface expression and transport function of MRP2/Mrp2. In patients with OTCD, hepatic MRP2 expression increased and serum T-Bil concentration decreased significantly after 4PBA treatment. In vitro studies designed to explore the mechanism underlying this drug action suggested that cell surface-resident MRP2/Mrp2 is degraded via ubiquitination-mediated targeting to the endosomal/lysosomal degradation pathway and that 4PBA inhibits the degradation of cell surface-resident MRP2/Mrp2 by reducing its susceptibility to ubiquitination.


4PBA activates MRP2/Mrp2 function through increased expression of MRP2/Mrp2 at the hepatocanalicular membrane by modulating its ubiquitination, and thereby decreases serum T-Bil concentration. 4PBA has thus therapeutic potential for improving hyperbilirubinemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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