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      Expression of HNF4alpha in the human and rat choroid plexus – Implications for drug transport across the blood-cerebrospinal-fluid (CSF) barrier

      1 , , 1 , 2

      BMC Molecular Biology

      BioMed Central

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          The choroid plexus consists of highly differentiated epithelium and functions as a barrier at the interface of the blood-cerebrospinal-fluid (CSF). This tissue may therefore determine the bioavailability and transport of drugs to the brain. Little is known about the expression of drug and xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes (DME) and of drug transporters in the human choroid plexus. Notably, the transcription factor and zinc finger protein HNF4alpha is a master regulator of DMEs and of drug transporters. As of today its activity in the blood-CSF barrier is unknown. Here we report our efforts in determining HNF4alpha activity in the regulation of ABC transporters in the human and rat choroid plexus.


          We report expression of HNF4alpha by qRT-PCR and by immunohistochemistry and evidence transcript expression of the ATP-binding cassette transporters ABCB1, ABCB4, ABCC1-6 in choroid plexus. Additionally, HNF4alpha DNA binding activity at regulatory sequences of ABCB4 and ABCC1 was determined by EMSA bandshift assays with a specific antibody. We then performed siRNA mediated functional knock down of HNF4alpha in Caco-2 cells and found ABCC1 gene expression to be repressed in cell culture experiments.


          Our study evidences activity of HNF4alpha in human and rat choroid plexus. This transcription factor targets DMEs and drug transporters and may well determine availability of drugs at the blood-CSF barrier.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Mammalian drug efflux transporters of the ATP binding cassette (ABC) family: an overview.

          Active drug efflux transporters of the ATP binding cassette (ABC)-containing family of proteins have a major impact on the pharmacological behavior of most of the drugs in use today. Pharmacological properties affected by ABC transporters include the oral bioavailability, hepatobiliary, direct intestinal, and urinary excretion of drugs and drug-metabolites and -conjugates. Moreover, the penetration of drugs into a range of important pharmacological sanctuaries, such as brain, testis, and fetus, and the penetration into specific cell- and tissue compartments can be extensively limited by ABC transporters. These interactions with ABC transporters determine to a large extent the clinical usefulness, side effects and toxicity risks of drugs. Many other xenotoxins, (pre-)carcinogens and endogenous compounds are also influenced by the ABC transporters, with corresponding consequences for the well-being of the individual. We aim to provide an overview of properties of the mammalian ABC transporters known to mediate significant transport of clinically relevant drugs.
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            Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (nuclear receptor 2A1) is essential for maintenance of hepatic gene expression and lipid homeostasis.

            The numerous functions of the liver are controlled primarily at the transcriptional level by the concerted actions of a limited number of hepatocyte-enriched transcription factors (hepatocyte nuclear factor 1alpha [HNF1alpha], -1beta, -3alpha, -3beta, -3gamma, -4alpha, and -6 and members of the c/ebp family). Of these, only HNF4alpha (nuclear receptor 2A1) and HNF1alpha appear to be correlated with the differentiated phenotype of cultured hepatoma cells. HNF1alpha-null mice are viable, indicating that this factor is not an absolute requirement for the formation of an active hepatic parenchyma. In contrast, HNF4alpha-null mice die during embryogenesis. Moreover, recent in vitro experiments using tetraploid aggregation suggest that HNF4alpha is indispensable for hepatocyte differentiation. However, the function of HNF4alpha in the maintenance of hepatocyte differentiation and function is less well understood. To address the function of HNF4alpha in the mature hepatocyte, a conditional gene knockout was produced using the Cre-loxP system. Mice lacking hepatic HNF4alpha expression accumulated lipid in the liver and exhibited greatly reduced serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increased serum bile acid concentrations. The observed phenotypes may be explained by (i) a selective disruption of very-low-density lipoprotein secretion due to decreased expression of genes encoding apolipoprotein B and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein, (ii) an increase in hepatic cholesterol uptake due to increased expression of the major high-density lipoprotein receptor, scavenger receptor BI, and (iii) a decrease in bile acid uptake to the liver due to down-regulation of the major basolateral bile acid transporters sodium taurocholate cotransporter protein and organic anion transporter protein 1. These data indicate that HNF4alpha is central to the maintenance of hepatocyte differentiation and is a major in vivo regulator of genes involved in the control of lipid homeostasis.
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              Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha controls the development of a hepatic epithelium and liver morphogenesis.

              Although advances have been made in understanding cell differentiation, only rudimentary knowledge exists concerning how differentiated cells form tissues and organs. We studied liver organogenesis because the cell and tissue architecture of this organ is well defined. Approximately 60% of the adult liver consists of hepatocytes that are arranged as single-cell anastomosing plates extending from the portal region of the liver lobule toward the central vein. The basal surface of the hepatocytes is separated from adjacent sinusoidal endothelial cells by the space of Disse, where the exchange of substances between serum and hepatocytes takes place. The hepatocyte's apical surface forms bile canaliculi that transport bile to the hepatic ducts. Proper liver architecture is crucial for hepatic function and is commonly disrupted in disease states, including cirrhosis and hepatitis. Here we report that hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (Hnf4alpha) is essential for morphological and functional differentiation of hepatocytes, accumulation of hepatic glycogen stores and generation of a hepatic epithelium. We show that Hnf4alpha is a dominant regulator of the epithelial phenotype because its ectopic expression in fibroblasts induces a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. Most importantly, the morphogenetic parameters controlled by Hnf4alpha in hepatocytes are essential for normal liver architecture, including the organization of the sinusoidal endothelium.

                Author and article information

                BMC Mol Biol
                BMC Molecular Biology
                BioMed Central
                3 July 2009
                : 10
                : 68
                [1 ]Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine, Center of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, Nikolai-Fuchs-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany
                [2 ]Center of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical School of Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany
                Copyright © 2009 Niehof and Borlak; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Molecular biology


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