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J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 5;287(41):34660-82. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.373241. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Evidence for bidirectional endocannabinoid transport across cell membranes.

Author information

1
Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, National Center of Competence in Research TransCure, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

Despite extensive research on the trafficking of anandamide (AEA) across cell membranes, little is known about the membrane transport of other endocannabinoids, such as 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Previous studies have provided data both in favor and against a cell membrane carrier-mediated transport of endocannabinoids, using different methodological approaches. Because AEA and 2-AG undergo rapid and almost complete intracellular hydrolysis, we employed a combination of radioligand assays and absolute quantification of cellular and extracellular endocannabinoid levels. In human U937 leukemia cells, 100 nm AEA and 1 μm 2-AG were taken up through a fast and saturable process, reaching a plateau after 5 min. Employing differential pharmacological blockage of endocannabinoid uptake, breakdown, and interaction with intracellular binding proteins, we show that eicosanoid endocannabinoids harboring an arachidonoyl chain compete for a common membrane target that regulates their transport, whereas other N-acylethanolamines did not interfere with AEA and 2-AG uptake. By combining fatty acid amide hydrolase or monoacyl glycerol lipase inhibitors with hydrolase-inactive concentrations of the AEA transport inhibitors UCM707 (1 μm) and OMDM-2 (5 μm), a functional synergism on cellular AEA and 2-AG uptake was observed. Intriguingly, structurally unrelated AEA uptake inhibitors also blocked the cellular release of AEA and 2-AG. We show, for the first time, that UCM707 and OMDM-2 inhibit the bidirectional movement of AEA and 2-AG across cell membranes. Our findings suggest that a putative endocannabinoid cell membrane transporter controls the cellular AEA and 2-AG trafficking and metabolism.

PMID:
22879589
PMCID:
PMC3464571
DOI:
10.1074/jbc.M112.373241
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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