We examined the possible existence of histidine residue(s) in the folate transporter of rabbit intestine. This was done with use of the histidine-specific reagent diethyl pyrocarbonate (DEPC) and purified intestinal brush-border-membrane vesicles. DEPC caused significant concentration- and time-dependent inhibition of folic acid transport. The inhibition was only seen when transport was examined in vesicles incubated in buffer at pH 5.2 and not in those incubated in buffer at pH 7.4. The addition of unlabelled folic acid to vesicle suspension before treatment with DEPC (2.5 mM) led to a significant (P < 0.01) protection (84%) against the inhibition of folic acid transport. Treating vesicles pretreated with DEPC (2.5 mM) with reducing reagents (dithiothreitol, 2-mercaptoethanol and 2,3-dimercaptopropanol, all at a final concentration of 10 mM) did not reverse the inhibitory effect of DEPC on folic acid transport. On the other hand, treating the DEPC-pretreated vesicles with hydroxylamine (140 mM) led to a significant reversal (P < 0.01) (54%) of the inhibition of folic acid transport. The inhibitory effect of DEPC on carrier-mediated folic acid transport was found to be mediated through a decrease in the Vmax. (i.e. a decrease in the number and/or activity) of the carriers and an increase in the apparent Km (i.e. a decrease in their affinity), classifying the effect as a mixed-type inhibition. These results demonstrate the existence of critical histidine residue(s) in the intestinal brush-border-membrane folate transporter which is essential for its interaction with, and transport of, the vitamin. These findings also suggest that the histidine residue(s) is located at (or near) the substrate-binding site.
- © 1993 The Biochemical Society, London