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Biochem Pharmacol. 1993 Sep 14;46(6):1053-7.

Mechanism of uptake of the phosphonate analog (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)cytosine (HPMPC) in Vero cells.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38101-0318.


The cellular uptake of phosphonylmethoxypropyl cytosine (HPMPC) was characterized to gain insight into the molecular properties that allow this anticytomegalovirus drug to permeate cell membranes. The time course of uptake of HPMPC into Vero cells was linear between 10 and 75 min and proportional to the concentration in the medium from 10(-6) to 10(-2) M. HPMPC uptake was temperature sensitive and the rate of uptake was considerably lower at 27 degrees than at 37 degrees and almost totally inhibited at 4 degrees. In competition studies with naturally occurring nucleosides, nucleotides or the phosphonylmethoxyethyl derivatives, none affected the uptake of HPMPC at concentrations up to 2000-fold molar excess. The uptake of [3H]HPMPC into Vero cells was compared with that of [14C]sucrose, a probe for fluid-phase endocytosis. Kinetics for both compounds were very similar, as were the effects of the microtubule antagonist colchicine and the tumor promoting agent phorbol myristate acetate. Colchicine and the phorbol ester are known to, respectively, inhibit and stimulate endocytosis. It is concluded from these data that HPMPC enters Vero cells by fluid-phase endocytosis and that once internalized it may accumulate in the lysosome. Protonation of the negative charge on the phosphonyl group in HPMPC may allow its diffusion across the lysosome membrane and eventual activation to its putative active diphosphorylated form in the cell cytoplasm.

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