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J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 22;280(16):15880-7. Epub 2005 Feb 8.

Functional characterization of novel human and mouse equilibrative nucleoside transporters (hENT3 and mENT3) located in intracellular membranes.

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  • 1School of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom.


The first mammalian examples of the equilibrative nucleoside transporter family to be characterized, hENT1 and hENT2, were passive transporters located predominantly in the plasma membranes of human cells. We now report the functional characterization of members of a third subgroup of the family, from human and mouse, which differ profoundly in their properties from previously characterized mammalian nucleoside transporters. The 475-residue human and mouse proteins, designated hENT3 and mENT3, respectively, are 73% identical in amino acid sequence and possess long N-terminal hydrophilic domains that bear typical (DE)XXXL(LI) endosomal/lysosomal targeting motifs. ENT3 transcripts and proteins are widely distributed in human and rodent tissues, with a particular abundance in placenta. However, in contrast to ENT1 and ENT2, the endogenous and green fluorescent protein-tagged forms of the full-length hENT3 protein were found to be predominantly intracellular proteins that co-localized, in part, with lysosomal markers in cultured human cells. Truncation of the hydrophilic N-terminal region or mutation of its dileucine motif to alanine caused the protein to be relocated to the cell surface both in human cells and in Xenopus oocytes, allowing characterization of its transport activity in the latter. The protein proved to be a broad selectivity, low affinity nucleoside transporter that could also transport adenine. Transport activity was relatively insensitive to the classical nucleoside transport inhibitors nitrobenzylthioinosine, dipyridamole, and dilazep and was sodium ion-independent. However, it was strongly dependent upon pH, and the optimum pH value of 5.5 probably reflected the location of the transporter in acidic, intracellular compartments.

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