BACKGROUND/AIMS: Inherited dysfunction of the bile salt export pump BSEP (ABCB11) causes a progressive and a benign form of familial intrahepatic cholestasis, denominated as PFIC2 and BRIC2, respectively. We functionally characterized novel ABCB11 mutations encountered in two patients with a PFIC2 and a BRIC2 phenotype, respectively.
METHODS: BSEP expression was determined in liver biopsies by immunohistochemistry. ABCB11 mutations were functionally characterized by taurocholate transport in SF9 cells transfected with human ABCB11.
RESULTS: The PFIC2 patient was compound heterozygous for a splicing mutation in intron 4 ((+3)A > C) combined with an early stop codon at position 930 (R930X), while the BRIC2 patient was compound heterozygous for two nonsynonymous mutations in exon 9 (E297G) and exon 12 (R432T), respectively. Hepatic BSEP expression was absent in PFIC2 and preserved in BRIC2. In BRIC2, taurocholate transport was decreased to 13% and 20% of reference levels for R432T and E297G, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: The intron 4 (+3)A > C, R930X and R432T represent previously undescribed mutations of the ABCB11 gene that confer a PFIC2 and a BRIC2 phenotype, respectively. By combining functional in-vitro characterization with immunohistochemical detection of variant BSEP we provide direct evidence for the role of ABCB11 mutations in the pathogenesis of different forms of intrahepatic cholestasis.