Spatial expression patterns of peptide transporters in the human and rat gastrointestinal tracts, Caco-2 in vitro cell culture model, and multiple human tissues

AAPS PharmSci. 2001;3(1):E9. doi: 10.1208/ps030109.


This study sought to identify the spatial patterns of expression of peptide transporter 1 (PepT1), peptide transporter 3 (PTR3), peptide/histidine transporter 1 (PHT1), and the human peptide transporter 1 (HPT-1) mRNA in complementary DNA (cDNA) libraries of the human and rat gastrointestinal tracts (GIT), Caco-2 in vitro cell culture model, and in a human multiple tissue panel. Human PTR3 and PHT1 are putative peptide transporters recently discovered. Using sequence-specific primers designed to amplify regions of PepT1, PTR3, PHT1, and HPT-1, we were able to identify the expression of mRNA for each of these transporters in human cDNA panels (Clontech, Palo Alto, CA), the rat GIT, and in Caco-2 cDNA libraries by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Southern Blot analysis. These studies suggest that in the human GIT, PepT1 appears to be localized predominantly in the duodenum, with decreasing expression in the jejunum and ileum. In contrast, PTR3 and HPT-1 were widely expressed in the human GIT, with predominant expression in the different regions of the colon. PHT1 appeared to be expressed in low levels throughout the human GI tract. Interestingly, the mRNAs for all 4 peptide transporters were expressed in Caco-2 cells throughout 30 days of culture. PepT1, PTR3, PHT1, and HPT-1 were also widely expressed in the rat GIT. Human tissue cDNA panel screening suggests that PTR3 and PHT1 are more uniformly expressed, whereas PepT1 and HPT-1 demonstrated site-specific expression. These results suggest that PepT1, PTR3, PHT1, and HPT-1 all may act to facilitate the diffusion of peptides and peptide-based pharmaceuticals in the GIT. PTR3, PHT1, and HPT-1 expressions in Caco-2 cell monolayers strongly suggest that their function needs to be further elucidated and their contribution to peptide transport not ignored. Taken together, these results demonstrate the potential for molecular biological characterization in localizing active transporter systems that can potentially be targeted for enhancing the absorption of peptide-based pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cadherins*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Peptide Transporter 1
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins*
  • Symporters*


  • CDH17 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cdh17 protein, rat
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Histones
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • PHT1 protein, S pombe
  • Peptide Transporter 1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SLC15A1 protein, human
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Slc15a1 protein, rat
  • Symporters
  • intestinal peptide-proton cotransporter
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase
  • CDK13 protein, human