Background/aims: A cDNA (2.7 kb) encoding a rat liver basolateral Na(+)-independent organic anion transporter (oatp) has recently been cloned. The aim of the present study was to clarify the mechanisms of bile formation during development.
Methods: The ontogenic expression of oatp was examined by northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization in rat liver. The expression of oatp in the kidney was also studied in parallel.
Results: In the liver, a 2.5 kb oatp mRNA was first detected in the fetus on day 16 of gestation. The amount of this oatp mRNA remained stable during the perinatal period and increased dramatically after weaning. Other transcripts probably corresponding to oatp-related mRNAs also display a late expression pattern in the perinatal period. In contrast, Na+/taurocholate transporting polypeptide (Ntcp) mRNA was first detected on day 20 of gestation. By in situ hybridization, oatp mRNA was localized into hepatocytes and distributed without lobular heterogeneity. In the kidney, a single 2.4 kb oatp transcript was detected from birth to adult age. This transcript was exclusively distributed in the epithelial cells of the proximal tubules localized in the kidney cortex and the outer medulla.
Conclusions: These results indicate that oatp undergoes a time-related expression in rat liver and kidney during development and that its gene transcription precedes Ntcp gene transcription in the liver. The delayed expression of oatp at the perinatal period may explain in part the immaturity of bile formation and the physiological neonatal cholestasis.