Cellular uptake of sepiapterin and push-pull accumulation of tetrahydrobiopterin

Mol Genet Metab. 2008 Aug;94(4):410-416. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2008.04.007. Epub 2008 Jun 3.


Cellular uptake of sepiapterin resulted in an efficient accumulation of tetrahydrobiopterin. Tetrahydrobiopterin is much less permeable across the cell membrane than sepiapterin or dihydrobiopterin, the precursors of the tetrahydrobiopterin-salvage pathway. The uptake of sepiapterin by the cell was examined under metabolic arrest with N-acetylserotonin, an inhibitor of sepiapterin reductase. The release profile of previously accumulated sepiapterin was also analyzed. Two routes were clearly distinguishable, namely rapid and slow. Both were apparently bi-directional and equilibrating in type. Each route was connected to non-mixable pools somehow separated in the cell. The rapid process was too fast to analyze by the current methods of cell handling. The slower process was associated with conversion of sepiapterin to tetrahydrobiopterin in the absence of N-acetylserotonin, suggesting that this route opens into the cytosolic compartment where use of the salvage pathway was strongly driven by sepiapterin reductase and dihydrofolate reductase with a supply of NADPH which favors tetrahydrobiopterin accumulation. Consequently, sepiapterin was enforcedly taken up by the cell where it accumulated tetrahydrobiopterin in the cytosol in continuous manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Biopterin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Biopterin / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Pterins / metabolism*


  • Pterins
  • Biopterin
  • sepiapterin
  • sapropterin