A humanized mouse model for the reduced folate carrier

Mol Genet Metab. 2008 Feb;93(2):95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2007.09.014. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


The ubiquitously expressed reduced folate carrier (RFC) or SLC19A1 is recognized to be an essential transport system for folates in mammalian cells and tissues. In addition to its generalized role as a folate transporter, RFC provides specialized tissue functions including absorption across intestinal/colonic epithelia, transport across the basolateral membrane of renal proximal tubules, transplacental transport of folates, and folate transport across the blood-brain barrier. The human RFC (hRFC) gene is regulated by five major upstream non-coding regions (designated A1/A2, A, B, C, and D), each transcribed from a unique promoter. Altogether, at least 14 distinct hRFC transcripts can be envisaged in which different 5' untranslated regions (UTRs) are fused to a common splice acceptor region (positions -1 to -49) within the first coding exon with a common 1776bp coding sequence. The 5' non-coding regions are characterized by alternate transcription start sites, multiple splice forms, and selective tissue distributions. Alternate 5' UTRs impact mRNA stabilities and translation efficiencies, and result in synthesis of modified hRFC proteins translated from upstream AUGs. In this report, we describe production and characterization of transgenic mice (TghRFC1) containing a functional hRFC gene and of humanized mice in which the mRFC gene is inactivated and an active hRFC gene has been introduced. The mice appear to be healthy and to breed well. Analysis of tissue specificity of expression in both the TghRFC1 and humanized hRFC mice by real-time RT-PCR demonstrates that the hRFC gene is expressed with a specificity closely resembling that seen in human tissues. For the humanized hRFC mice, levels of B and A1/A2 5' UTRs predominated in all mice/tissues, thus resembling results in normal human tissues. Lower levels of A and C 5' UTRs were also detected. The availability of humanized mouse models for hRFC will permit investigators to address critical unanswered questions pertinent to human health and disease. These include the ability to analyze the hRFC gene in vivo, to control dietary and other environmental conditions that may impact levels of gene expression, and to control the genetics of the mice in order to assess the effects of hRFC gene alterations on tissue folate uptake and distribution, none of which can be easily achieved in human populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal
  • Pregnancy
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Reduced Folate Carrier Protein
  • Species Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • DNA Primers
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Reduced Folate Carrier Protein
  • SLC19A1 protein, human
  • Slc19a1 protein, mouse
  • Folic Acid