Ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM)-binding phosphoprotein 50 (EBP50) and NHE3 Kinase A regulatory protein (E3KARP) are membrane-cytoskeleton linking proteins that utilize 2 PSD-95/DIg/ZO-1 (PDZ) domains and an ERM binding site to coordinate cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-regulated ion transport in a number of distinct epithelia. ERM family members serve to anchor EBP50 and E3KARP to the actin cytoskeleton and sequester protein kinase A (PKA) to these protein complexes. In hepatocytes and cholangiocytes, the epithelial cells of the bile secretory unit, cAMP-activated PKA stimulates secretion and bile formation, but the molecular mechanisms, including the potential contribution of EBP50 and E3KARP, remain undetermined. The present studies evaluated the comparative expression and localization of EBP50 and E3KARP in rat hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. Complementary DNAs encoding rat EBP50 and E3KARP were identified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in both epithelial cell types and subsequently sequenced. Northern and Western analysis showed the presence of EBP50 messenger RNA and protein in both hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. Confocal immunofluorescence revealed EBP50 was concentrated at the apical domain of both cell types. E3KARP was also expressed in cholangiocytes but had a distinct cytoplasmic/nuclear distribution. In dominant-negative transfection studies, patch clamp analysis of Mz-ChA1 cholangiocarcinoma cells showed that expression of the PDZl domain of EBP50 selectively decreased the endogenous cAMP-mediated Cl- secretory response. The apical expression of EBP50, presence of specific ERM proteins, and functional effects of PDZl expression on cholangiocyte secretion suggest EBP50 is positioned to contribute to the organization and regulation of bile secretory proteins in both hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.
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