The canalicular multispecific organic anion transporter, cMoat, is an ATP-binding-cassette protein expressed in the canalicular domain of hepatocytes. In addition to the transport of endo- and xenobiotics, cMoat has also been proposed to transport GSH into bile, the major driving force of bile-acid-independent bile flow. We have shown previously that the herbicide 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), a peroxisome-proliferator agent, significantly increases bile-acid-independent bile flow in mice. On this basis, the effect of the herbicide on cMoat gene expression was studied. A 3.6-fold increase in cMoat mRNA levels and a 2.5-fold increase in cMoat protein content were observed in the liver of mice fed on a diet supplemented with 0.125% 2,4,5-T. These effects were due to an increased rate of gene transcription (3.9-fold) and were not associated with peroxisome proliferation. Significant increases in bile flow (2.23±0.39 versus 1.13±0.15 μl/min per g of liver; P < 0.05) and biliary GSH output (7.40±3.30 versus 2.65±0.34 nmol/min per g of liver; P < 0.05) were observed in treated animals. The hepatocellular concentration of total glutathione also increased in hepatocytes of treated mice (10.95±0.84 versus 5.12±0.47 mM; P < 0.05), because of the induction (2.4-fold) of the heavy subunit of the γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS-HS) gene. This is the first model of co-induction of cMoat and GCS-HS genes in vivo in the mouse liver, associated with increased glutathione synthesis and biliary glutathione output. Our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the cMoat transporter plays a crucial role in the secretion of biliary GSH.

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