Characterization of a human alternatively spliced truncated reduced folate carrier increasing folate accumulation in parental leukemia cells

S Drori, H Sprecher, G Shemer, G Jansen, I D Goldman, Y G Assaraf

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Human CEM-7A cells established by gradual deprivation of leucovorin from the growth medium, display 100-fold overexpression of methotrexate transport activity. We found that this was associated with 10-fold reduced folate carrier gene amplification and 50-fold overexpression of both the principal 3 kb reduced folate carrier transcript and, surprisingly, a novel truncated 2 kb reduced folate carrier mRNA poorly expressed in parental CEM cells. The molecular basis for the generation of this truncated reduced folate carrier transcript and its potential functional role in folate accumulation were studied. Reduced folate carrier genomic and cDNA sequencing revealed that the truncated transcript had an internal deletion of 987 nucleotides which was a result of an alternative splicing utilizing a cryptic acceptor splice site within exon 6. This deletion consisted of the 3'-most 480 nucleotides of the reduced folate carrier ORF and the following 507 nucleotides of the 3'-UTR. These resulted in a truncated reduced folate carrier protein, which lacks the C-terminal 160 amino acids, but instead contains 58 new C-terminal amino acids obtained from reading through the 3'-UTR. Consequently, a truncated reduced folate carrier protein is generated that lacks the 12th transmembrane domain and contains a new and much shorter C-terminus predicted to reside at the extracellular face. Western analysis with plasma-membrane fraction from CEM-7A cells revealed marked overexpression of both a broadly migrating approximately 65-90 kDa native reduced folate carrier and a approximately 40-45 kDa truncated reduced folate carrier, the core molecular masses of which were confirmed by in vitro translation. However, unlike the native reduced folate carrier, the truncated reduced folate carrier protein failed to bind the affinity labels NHS-[3H]MTX and NHS-[3H]folic acid. Stable transfection of the truncated reduced folate carrier cDNA into mouse L1210 leukemia cells: increased folate accumulation, decreased their leucovorin and folic acid growth requirements, and increased their sensitivity to methotrexate. This constitutes the first documentation of an expressed alternatively spliced truncated reduced folate carrier that, when coexpressed along with the native carrier, augments folate accumulation and consequently decreases the cellular folate growth requirement. The possible mechanisms by which the truncated reduced folate carrier may increase folate accumulation and/or metabolism in cells coexpressing the truncated and native reduced folate carrier are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-702
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins/chemistry
  • Cell Division/drug effects
  • DNA Primers/genetics
  • DNA, Complementary/genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm/genetics
  • Folic Acid/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukemia L1210/genetics
  • Leukemia/genetics
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Methotrexate/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Messenger/genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm/genetics
  • Reduced Folate Carrier Protein
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured

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