Transport of the co-substrate UDPGA (UDP-glucuronic acid) into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum is an essential step in glucuronidation reactions due to the intraluminal location of the catalytic site of the enzyme UGT (UDP-glucuronosyltransferase). In the present study, we have characterized the function of several NSTs (nucleotide sugar transporters) and UGTs as potential carriers of UDPGA for glucuronidation reactions. UDPGlcNAc (UDP-N-acetylglucosamine)-dependent UDPGA uptake was found both in rat liver microsomes and in microsomes prepared from the rat hepatoma cell line H4IIE. The latency of UGT activity in microsomes derived from rat liver and V79 cells expressing UGT1A6 correlated well with mannose-6-phosphatase latency, confirming the UGT in the recombinant cells retained a physiology similar to rat liver microsomes. In the present study, four cDNAs coding for NSTs were obtained; two were previously reported (UGTrel1 and UGTrel7) and two newly identified (huYEA4 and huYEA4S). Localization of NSTs within the human genome sequence revealed that huYEA4S is an alternatively spliced form of huYEA4. All the cloned NSTs were stably expressed in V79 (Chinese hamster fibroblast) cells, and were able to transport UDPGA after preloading of isolated microsomal vesicles with UDPGlcNAc. The highest uptake was seen with UGTrel7, which displayed a Vmax approx. 1% of rat liver microsomes. Treatment of H4IIE cells with β-naphthoflavone induced UGT protein expression but did not affect the rate of UDPGA uptake. Furthermore, microsomes from UGT1-deficient Gunn rat liver showed UDPGA uptake similar to those from control rats. These data show that NSTs can act as UDPGA transporters for glucuronidation reactions, and indicate that UGTs of the 1A family do not function as UDPGA carriers in microsomes. The cell line H4IIE is a useful model for the study of UDPGA transporters for glucuronidation reactions.

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