The formation of bile canaliculi in human hepatoma cell lines

Jen‐Hwey ‐H Chiu, Cheng‐Po ‐P Hu, Wing‐Yiu ‐Y Lui, Szecheng J. Lo, Chungming Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

60 Scopus citations


Hepatocytes, known as polarized epithelial cells, are composed of sinusoid, basolateral and bile canalicular domains. Each domain contains proteins specific for it. Our studies indicate that the well‐differentiated human hepatoma cell lines HepG2 and HuH‐7 formed bile canaliculi in tissue culture, whereas the poorly differentiated hepatoma cell lines HA22T/VGH and SK‐HEP‐1 did not. We also used the 9B2 monoclonal antibody, previously shown to be specific for the human bile canalicular domain, to study formation of bile canaliculi in these human hepatoma cell lines. All four cell lines synthesize the 140‐KD 9B2 antigen. Studies using peroxidase‐antiperoxidase staining and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the 9B2 antigen was first detected in cytoplasm and packaged in microvilli‐lined vesicles, then vectorially transported to the cell surface and eventually fused with microvilli‐lined vesicles from neighboring cells to form bile canaliculi in well‐differentiated hepatoma cell lines. However, the 9B2 antigen of poorly differentiated lines was synthesized in cytoplasm, then transported directly to and evenly distributed on the cell membrane. These results lead us to conclude that human hepatoma cell lines could serve as a good in vitro model to study the formation of bile canaliculi in human hepatocytes. The bile canaliculi of human hepatocytes may be preformed and assembled in the intracellular, microvilli‐lined vesicles, then vectorially transported to the cell surface, where they form the bile canaliculi through vesicles fusion. Finally, formation of bile canaliculi and transport of 9B2 antigen may be related to the differentiation of hepatocytes or progression stages of human hepatoma cells.(HEPATOLOGY 1990; 11:834‐842.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-842
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - 05 1990
Externally publishedYes


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