Inhibition of the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT-SLC46A1) by bicarbonate and other anions

Rongbao Zhao, Michele Visentin, Sylvia O. Suadicani, I. David Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) plays a key role in intestinal folate absorption, and loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding this transporter are the molecular basis for hereditary folate malabsorption. Using a stable transfectant with high expression of PCFT, physiologic levels of bicarbonate produced potent and rapidly reversible inhibition of PCFT-mediated transport at neutral pH. Bisulfite and nitrite also inhibited PCFT function at neutral pH, whereas sulfate, nitrate, and phosphate had no impact at all. At weakly acidic pH (6.5), bisulfite and nitrite exhibited much stronger inhibition of PCFT-mediated transport, whereas sulfate and nitrate remained noninhibitory. Inhibition by bisulfite and nitrite at pH6.5 was associatedwith a marked decrease in the influx Vmax and collapse of the transmembrane proton gradient attributed to the diffusion of the protonated forms into these cells. Monocarboxylates such as pyruvate and acetate also collapsed the pH gradient andwere also inhibitory, whereas citrate and glycine neither altered the proton gradient nor inhibited PCFTmediated transport. These observations add another dimension to the unfavorable pH environment for PCFT function in systemic tissues: the presence of high concentrations of bicarbonate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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