Impaired N-linked glycosylation of uptake and efflux transporters in human non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

John D. Clarke, Petr Novak, April D. Lake, Rhiannon N. Hardwick, Nathan J. Cherrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: N-linked glycosylation of proteins is critical for proper protein folding and trafficking to the plasma membrane. Drug transporters are one class of proteins that have reduced function when glycosylation is impaired. N-linked glycosylation of plasma proteins has also been investigated as a biomarker for several liver diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The purpose of this study was to assess the transcriptomic expression of genes involved in protein processing and glycosylation, and to determine the glycosylation status of key drug transporters during human NAFLD progression. Methods: Human liver samples diagnosed as healthy, steatosis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) were analysed for gene expression of glycosylation-related genes and for protein glycosylation using immunoblot. Results: Genes involved in protein processing in the ER and biosynthesis of N-glycans were significantly enriched for down-regulation in NAFLD progression. Included in the down regulated N-glycan biosynthesis category were genes involved in the oligosaccharyltransferase complex, N-glycan quality control, N-glycan precursor biosynthesis, N-glycan trimming to the core, and N-glycan extension from the core. N-glycan degradation genes were unaltered in the progression to NASH. Immunoblot analysis of the uptake transporters organic anion transporting polypeptide-1B1 (OATP1B1), OATP1B3, OATP2B1, and Sodium/Taurocholate Co-transporting Polypeptide (NTCP) and the efflux transporter multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (MRP2) demonstrated a significant loss of glycosylation following the progression to NASH. Conclusions: These data suggest that the loss of glycosylation of key uptake and efflux transporters in humans NASH may influence transporter function and contribute to altered drug disposition observed in NASH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1081
Number of pages8
JournalLiver International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • N-linked glycosylation
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • drug transporters
  • hepatobiliary drug disposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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