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Abstract

Bile salt secretion is mediated primarily by the bile salt export pump (Bsep), a transporter on the canalicular membrane of the hepatocyte. However, little is known about the short-term regulation of Bsep activity. Ca2+ regulates targeting and insertion of transporters in many cell systems, and Ca2+ release near the canalicular membrane is mediated by the type II inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R2), so we investigated the possible role of InsP3R2 in modulating Bsep activity. The kinetics of Bsep activity were monitored by following secretion of the fluorescent Bsep substrate cholylglycylamido-fluorescein (CGamF) in rat hepatocytes in collagen sandwich culture, an isolated cell system in which structural and functional polarity is preserved. CGamF secretion was nearly eliminated in cells treated with Bsep small interfering RNA (siRNA), demonstrating specificity of this substrate for Bsep. Secretion was also reduced after chelating intracellular calcium, inducing redistribution of InsP3R2 by depleting the cell membrane of cholesterol, or reducing InsP3R function by either knocking down InsP3R2 expression using siRNA or pharmacologic inhibition using xestospongin C. Confocal immunofluorescence showed that InsP3R2 and Bsep are in close proximity in the canalicular region, both in rat liver and in hepatocytes in sandwich culture. However, after knocking down InsP3R2 or inducing its dysfunction with cholesterol depletion, Bsep redistributed intracellularly. Finally, InsP3R2 was lost from the pericanalicular region in animal models of estrogen- and endotoxin-induced cholestasis. Conclusion: These data provide evidence that pericanalicular calcium signaling mediated by InsP3R2 plays an important role in maintaining bile salt secretion through posttranslational regulation of Bsep, and suggest that loss or redistribution of InsP3R2 may contribute to the pathophysiology of intrahepatic cholestasis. (HEPATOLOGY 2011;)