Transcobalamin II (TC II) is essential for cellular uptake of cobalamin. However, the origin of this transport protein is controversial and many organ sources have been suggested. We studied human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured in vitro. The cells contained TC II (2.3 pmol/10(8) cells) and released progressively increasing amounts of the protein into the surrounding medium during the 3-day incubation period. This release exceeded the starting intracellular content of TC II. In contrast, endothelial cells did not contain or elaborate R binder, the other major circulating binding protein for cobalamin, Cycloheximide inhibited the elaboration of TC II, suggesting that the endothelial cells synthesize the protein. Thrombin, which stimulates tissue plasminogen activator release, did not enhance TC II release, and neither did endotoxin or mellitin. However, thrombin did appear to partially protect TC II release from inhibition by cycloheximide. Among other cells studied, human fibroblasts also released TC II into the incubation medium, while K562 human leukemia cells, ARH-77 and HS Sultan human plasma cell lines, and Raji strain lymphoblasts did not. The data suggest that endothelial cells are an important source of the metabolically crucial TC II.

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