Physiological functions of organic cation transporters (OCTs) in the placenta include transporting essential nutrients from the maternal to fetal circulations. OCTN2 transports carnitine with high affinity, and the transport of several drugs has also been shown to be mediated by this transporter. In this work, the role of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation mechanisms in regulating OCTN2 was investigated by observing the effects of various activators and inhibitors of kinases and phosphatases on the uptake of carnitine in BeWo cells, a human choriocarcinoma trophoblast cell line frequently used as an in vitro model of the rate-limiting barrier for maternal-fetal exchange. Preincubation with genistein resulted in significant increases in both alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and carnitine uptake. Levamisole, an ALP inhibitor, caused a more substantial decrease in carnitine uptake than expected from its corresponding decrease in ALP activity. It was determined that levamisole competitively inhibits carnitine uptake, with a Ki value of 1.01 ± 0.05 mM, and this effect has a greater role in decreasing carnitine uptake than any indirect effects of ALP inhibition upon OCTN2 function. Progesterone also competitively inhibited carnitine uptake (Ki = 48.6 ± 5.0 μM), but had no effect on ALP activity in BeWo cells.
- Organic cation transporters
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