Kidney-specific expression of human organic cation transporter 2 (OCT2/SLC22A2) is regulated by DNA methylation

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2008 Jul;295(1):F165-70. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.90257.2008. Epub 2008 May 28.


Human organic cation transporter 2 (OCT2/SLC22A2), which is specifically expressed in the kidney, plays critical roles in the renal secretion of cationic compounds. Tissue expression and membrane localization of OCT2 are closely related to the tissue distribution, pharmacological effects, and/or adverse effects of its substrate drugs. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the kidney-specific expression of OCT2 have not been elucidated. In the present study, therefore, we examined the contribution of DNA methylation of the promoter region for the OCT2 gene to its tissue-specific expression using human tissue samples. In vivo methylation status of the proximal promoter region of OCT2 and that of OCT1, a liver-specific organic cation transporter, were investigated by bisulfite sequencing using human genomic DNA extracted from the kidney and liver. All CpG sites in the OCT2 proximal promoter were hypermethylated in the liver, while hypomethylated in the kidney. On the other hand, the promoter region of OCT1 was hypermethylated in both the kidney and liver. The level of methylation of the OCT2 promoter was especially low at the CpG site in the E-box, the binding site of the basal transcription factor upstream stimulating factor (USF) 1. In vitro methylation of the OCT2 proximal promoter dramatically reduced the transcriptional activity, and an electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that methylation at the E-box inhibited the binding of USF1. These results indicate that kidney-specific expression of human OCT2 is regulated by methylation of the proximal promoter region, interfering with the transactivation by USF1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-1 / metabolism
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Organic Cation Transporter 2
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Upstream Stimulatory Factors / physiology


  • Octamer Transcription Factor-1
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins
  • Organic Cation Transporter 2
  • POU2F1 protein, human
  • SLC22A2 protein, human
  • USF1 protein, human
  • Upstream Stimulatory Factors