Two hepatic cytoplasmic protein fractions, designated Y and Z, which bind sulfobromophthalein (BSP), bilirubin, and other organic anions, have been separated by G75 Sephadex gel filtration. The physiologic role of these protein fractions has been investigated. They are present in the 110,000 g supernatant fraction from the livers of all the species tested (rats, mice, guinea pigs, Rhesus monkeys, sheep, and man). Tissues which do not preferentially extract BSP or bilirubin from plasma do not contain these fractions, with the exception of small intestinal mucosa which contains Z. Anion binding by Y and Z fractions is not due to contamination with albumin. These fractions are responsible for the cytoplasmic localization of bilirubin in Gunn rats, and the fractions bind bilirubin, BSP, or indocyanine green (ICG), whether given in vivo or added in vitro to liver supernate from normal rats. Flavaspidic acid-N-methylglucaminate, bunamiodyl, and iodipamide, drugs known to interfere with the hepatic uptake mechanism, compete with bilirubin and BSP for binding to Z. These proteins appear to be important in the transfer of organic anions from plasma into the liver and provide a tool for the investigation of hepatic uptake mechanisms.
A. J. Levi, I. M. Arias