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Coordinate regulation of systemic and kidney tryptophan metabolism by the drug transporters OAT1 and OAT3


How organs sense circulating metabolites is a key question. Here, we show that the multispecific organic anion transporters of drugs, OAT1 (SLC22A6 or NKT) and OAT3 (SLC22A8), play a role in organ sensing. Metabolomics analyses of the serum of Oat1 and Oat3 knockout mice revealed changes in tryptophan derivatives involved in metabolism and signaling. Several of these metabolites are derived from the gut microbiome and are implicated as uremic toxins in chronic kidney disease. Direct interaction with the transporters was supported with cell-based transport assays. To assess the impact of the loss of OAT1 or OAT3 function on the kidney, an organ where these uptake transporters are highly expressed, knockout transcriptomic data were mapped onto a "metabolic task"-based computational model that evaluates over 150 cellular functions. Despite the changes of tryptophan metabolites in both knockouts, only in the Oat1 knockout were multiple tryptophan-related cellular functions increased. Thus, deprived of the ability to take up kynurenine, kynurenate, anthranilate, and N-formylanthranilate through OAT1, the kidney responds by activating its own tryptophan-related biosynthetic pathways. The results support the Remote Sensing and Signaling Theory, which describes how "drug" transporters help optimize levels of metabolites and signaling molecules by facilitating organ cross talk. Since OAT1 and OAT3 are inhibited by many drugs, the data implies potential for drug-metabolite interactions. Indeed, treatment of humans with probenecid, an OAT-inhibitor used to treat gout, elevated circulating tryptophan metabolites. Furthermore, given that regulatory agencies have recommended drugs be tested for OAT1 and OAT3 binding or transport, it follows that these metabolites can be used as endogenous biomarkers to determine if drug candidates interact with OAT1 and/or OAT3.

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