The uptake of the sulfated bile acid sulfolithocholyltaurine (SLCT) was investigated in isolated rat hepatocytes and in HeLa cells transfected with complementary DNAs (cDNAs) of organic anion transporting polypeptides (Oatps) 1 and 2 cloned from rat liver. In hepatocytes, transport of SLCT was greatly reduced by bromosulfophthalein (BSP), estrone sulfate, the precursor bile acids cholyltaurine and lithocholyltaurine, and 4,4'-diisothiocyanostilbene-2-2'-disulfonic acid (DIDS). However, SLCT transport was insensitive to 4-methylumbelliferyl sulfate, harmol sulfate, digoxin, fexofenadine, and lack of sodium ion. Because the estimation of kinetic constants was enhanced with use of inhibitors, BSP (1-50 micromol/L) was added to isolated rat hepatocytes to assess the various transport components for SLCT uptake. The resulting data showed a nonsaturable pathway and at least 2 pathways of different Michaelis-Menten constants (K(m)) (70 and 6 micromol/L) and similar maximum velocities (V(max)) (1.73 and 1.2 nmol/min/mg protein) and inhibition constants of 0.63 and 10.3 micromol/L for BSP. In expression systems, SLCT was taken up by Oatp1 and Oatp2 expressed in HeLa cells with similar K(m) values (12.6 +/- 6.2 and 14.6 +/- 1.9 micromol/L). These K(m) values were comparable to that observed for the high-affinity pathway in rat hepatocytes. In conclusion, the results suggest that transport of SLCT into rat liver is mediated in part by Oatp1 and Oatp2, high-affinity pathways, a lower-affinity pathway of unknown origin, and a nonsaturable pathway that is compatible with a transport system of high K(m) and/or passive diffusion.