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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 31;275(13):9690-8.

Identification and characterization of a Na(+)-independent neutral amino acid transporter that associates with the 4F2 heavy chain and exhibits substrate selectivity for small neutral D- and L-amino acids.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Kyorin University School of Medicine, 6-20-2 Shinkawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8611, Japan.


A cDNA was isolated from the mouse brain that encodes a novel Na(+)-independent neutral amino acid transporter. The encoded protein, designated as Asc-1 (asc-type amino acid transporter 1), was found to be structurally related to recently identified mammalian amino acid transporters for the transport systems L, y(+)L, x(C)(-), and b(0,+), which are linked, via a disulfide bond, to the type II membrane glycoproteins, 4F2 heavy chain (4F2hc), or rBAT (related to b(0,+) amino acid transporter). Asc-1 required 4F2hc for its functional expression. In Western blot analysis in the nonreducing condition, a 118-kDa band, which seems to correspond to the heterodimeric complex of Asc-1 and 4F2hc, was detected in the mouse brain. The band shifted to 33 kDa in the reducing condition, confirming that Asc-1 and 4F2hc are linked via a disulfide bond. Asc-1-mediated transport was not dependent on the presence of Na(+) or Cl(-). Although Asc-1 showed a high sequence homology (66% identity at the amino acid level) to the Na(+)-independent broad scope neutral amino acid transporter LAT2 (Segawa, H., Fukasawa, Y., Miyamoto, K., Takeda, E., Endou, H., and Kanai, Y. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 19745-19751), Asc-1 also exhibited distinctive substrate selectivity and transport properties. Asc-1 preferred small neutral amino acids such as Gly, L-Ala, L-Ser, L-Thr, and L-Cys, and alpha-aminoisobutyric acid as substrates. Asc-1 also transported D-isomers of the small neutral amino acids, in particular D-Ser, a putative endogenous modulator of N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate receptors, with high affinity. Asc-1 operated preferentially, although not exclusively, in an exchange mode. Asc-1 mRNA was detected in the brain, lung, small intestine, and placenta. The functional properties of Asc-1 seem to be consistent with those of a transporter subserving the Na(+)-independent small neutral amino acid transport system asc.

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