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Mol Genet Metab. 2012 Apr;105(4):652-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2011.12.021. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Effect of clinical mutations on functionality of the human riboflavin transporter-2 (hRFT-2).

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Departments of Medicine, Physiology/Biophysics, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


The Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome (BVVLS) is a rare neurological disease characterized by ponto-bulbar palsy, bilateral sensorineural deafness, and respiratory insufficiency. Recent genetic studies have identified mutations in the C20orf54 gene, which encodes the human riboflavin (RF) transporter -2 (hRFT-2) and suggested their link to the manifestation of BVVLS. However, there is nothing currently known about the effect of these mutations on functionality of hRFT-2, a protein that is expressed in a variety of tissues with high expression in the intestine. We addressed this issue using the human-derived intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells. Our results showed significant (P<0.01) impairment in RF uptake by Caco-2 cells transiently expressing W17R, P28T, E36K, E71K, and R132W (but not L350M) hRFT-2 mutants. This impairment in RF transport was not due to a decrease in transcription and/or translation of hRFT-2, since mRNA and protein levels of the carrier were similar in cells expressing the mutants and wild-type hRFT-2. Confocal images of live Caco-2 cells transiently transfected with hRFT-2 mutants (fused with green fluorescent protein) showed the P28T, E36K, E71K, and R132W mutants were retained within the endoplasmic reticulum, while the W17R and L350M mutants were expressed at the cell membrane; cell surface expression of the W17R mutant was further confirmed by direct determination of cell surface transporter density. These results show for the first time that some of the BVVLS associated mutations in hRFT-2 affect the transporter functionality and that this effect is mediated via alterations in membrane targeting and/or activity of the transporter.

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