Publication Details

Zhao, H., Ruberu, K., Li, H. & Garner, B. (2016). Cell type-specific modulation of cobalamin uptake by bovine serum. PLoS One, 11 (11), e0167044-1-e0167044-22.


Tracking cellular 57Co-labelled cobalamin (57Co-Cbl) uptake is a well-established method for studying Cbl homeostasis. Previous studies established that bovine serum is not generally permissive for cellular Cbl uptake when used as a supplement in cell culture medium, whereas supplementation with human serum promotes cellular Cbl uptake. The underlying reasons for these differences are not fully defined. In the current study we address this question. We extend earlier observations by showing that fetal calf serum inhibits cellular 57Co-Cbl uptake by HT1080 cells (a fibrosarcoma-derived fibroblast cell line). Furthermore, we discovered that a simple heat-treatment protocol (95oC for 10 min) ameliorates this inhibitory activity for HT1080 cell 57Co-Cbl uptake. We provide evidence that the very high level of haptocorrin in bovine serum (as compared to human serum) is responsible for this inhibitory activity. We suggest that bovine haptocorrin competes with cell-derived transcobalamin for Cbl binding, and that cellular Cbl uptake may be minimised in the presence of large amounts of bovine haptocorrin that are present under routine in vitro cell culture conditions. In experiments conducted with AG01518 cells (a neonatal foreskin-derived fibroblast cell line), overall cellular 57Co-Cbl uptake was 86% lower than for HT1080 cells, cellular TC production was below levels detectable by western blotting, and heat treatment of fetal calf serum resulted in only a modest increase in cellular 57Co-Cbl uptake. We recommend a careful assessment of cell culture protocols should be conducted in order to determine the potential benefits that heat-treated bovine serum may provide for in vitro studies of mammalian cell lines.

Grant Number


Grant Number