Mass spectrometry-based targeted proteomics as a tool to elucidate the expression and function of intestinal drug transporters

AAPS J. 2013 Oct;15(4):1128-40. doi: 10.1208/s12248-013-9521-3. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Intestinal transporter proteins affect the oral bioavailability of many drugs in a significant manner. In order to estimate or predict their impact on oral drug absorption, data on their intestinal expression levels are needed. So far, predominantly mRNA expression data are available which are not necessarily correlated with the respective protein content. All available protein data were assessed by immunoblotting techniques such as Western blotting which both possess a number of limitations for reliable protein quantification. In contrast to this, mass spectrometry-based targeted proteomics may represent a promising alternative method to provide comprehensive protein expression data. In this review, we will summarize so far available intestinal mRNA and protein expression data for relevant human multidrug transporters. Moreover, recently observed mass spectrometry-based targeted proteomic data will be presented and discussed with respect to potential functional consequences. Associated to this, we will provide a short tutorial how to set up these methods and emphasize critical aspects in method development. Finally, potential limitations and pitfalls of this emerging technique will be discussed. From our perspective, LC-MS/MS-based targeted proteomics represents a valuable new method to comprehensively analyse the intestinal expression of transporter proteins. The resulting expression data are expected to improve our understanding about the intestinal processing of drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Targeting / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Membrane Transport Proteins