The liver is the major organ which eliminates leukotriene C4 (LTC4) and other cysteinyl leukotrienes from the blood circulation into bile. Transport of LTC4 was studied using inside-out vesicles enriched in canalicular and sinusoidal membranes from rat liver. The incubation of canalicular membrane vesicles with [3H]LTC4 in the presence of ATP resulted in an uptake of LTC4 into vesicles. The initial rate of ATP-stimulated LTC4 uptake was about 40-fold higher in canalicular than in sinusoidal membrane vesicles.
When liver plasma membrane vesicles were incubated in the absence of ATP, an apparent transient uptake of LTC4 was observed which was temperaturedependent and not affected by the osmolarity. This indicates that LTC4 was bound to proteins on the surface of plasma membrane vesicles. Two proteins with relative molecular weights of 17,000 and 25,000 were detected by direct photoaffinity labeling as major LTC4-binding proteins. One protein (Mr 25,000) was ascribed to subunit 1 (Ya) of glutathione S-transferase which was associated with the membrane.
LTD4, LTE4, N-acetyl-LTE4, and ω-carboxy-N-acetyl-LTE4 were also transported into liver plasma membrane vesicles in an ATP-dependent manner with initial rates relative to LTC4 (1.0) of 0.46, 0.11, 0.35, and 0.22, respectively. Mutual competition between the cysteinyl leukotrienes and S-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)-glutathione for uptake indicated that they are transported by a common carrier. Apparent Km values of the transport system for LTC4, LTD4, and N-acetyl-LTE4 were 0.25, 1.5, and 5.2 μM, respectively. The ATP-dependent transport of LTC4 into vesicles was not inhibited by doxorubicin, daunorubicin, or verapamil, or by the monoclonal antibody C219, suggesting that the transport system differs from P-glycoprotein.
Liver plasma membrane vesicles prepared from mutant rats deficient in the hepatobiliary excretion of cysteinyl leukotrienes lacked the ATP-dependent transport of cysteinyl leukotrienes and S-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)-glutathione. These results demonstrate that the ATP-dependent carrier system is responsible for the transport of cysteinyl leukotrienes and glutathione S-conjugates from the hepatocytes into bile.