The peptide transporter PepT2 is expressed in rat brain and mediates the accumulation of the fluorescent dipeptide derivative beta-Ala-Lys-Nepsilon-AMCA in astrocytes

Glia. 1999 Jan;25(1):10-20. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-1136(19990101)25:1<10::aid-glia2>;2-y.


We describe the synthesis of a fluorescent dipeptide derivative, beta-Ala-Lys-Nepsilon-AMCA, which could be used as an excellent reporter molecule for studying the oligopeptide transport system in brain cell cultures. Fluorescence microscopic and immunocytochemical studies revealed that the reporter peptide specifically accumulated in astrocytes (type I and II) and O-2A progenitor cells but not in neurons or differentiated oligodendrocytes. In astroglia-rich cell culture the dipeptide derivative is taken up in unmetabolized form by an energy dependent, saturable process with apparent kinetic constants of KM = 28 microM and Vmax = 6 nmol x h(-1) x mg protein(-1) at pH 7.2. Competition studies revealed that the accumulation of beta-Ala-Lys-Nepsilon-AMCA is strongly inhibited by dipeptides and pseudopeptides such as bestatin, arphamenine A and B. The biochemical data indicated that the properties of this high-affinity oligopeptide carrier closely resemble those of the renal peptide transport system PepT2 and Northern blot analysis demonstrated that PepT2 mRNAis expressed in glial but not in neuronal cell cultures. In situ hybridization histochemistry also revealed a non-neuronal localization of PepT2 transcripts and a diffuse, widespread distribution of PepT2 signals throughout the entire rat brain. The selective accumulation of the fluorescent reporter molecule by brain cells under viable conditions may provide a useful tool for studying peptide uptake systems and other aspects of astroglial physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Coumarins / chemical synthesis
  • Coumarins / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Histocytochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Oligopeptides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Symporters*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Coumarins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Oligopeptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Symporters
  • alanyl-lysyl-amca
  • hydrogen-coupled oligopeptide transporter PepT2