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J Biol Chem. 1994 May 20;269(20):14759-67.

Protein kinase C modulates the activity of a cloned gamma-aminobutyric acid transporter expressed in Xenopus oocytes via regulated subcellular redistribution of the transporter.

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  • 1Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.


We report that activators and inhibitors of protein kinase C (PKC) and protein phosphatases regulate the activity of a cloned rat brain gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporter (GAT1) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Four compounds known to activate PKC increased GABA uptake 2-3.5-fold over basal control levels. Inhibition of PKC by bisindolylmaleimide reduced basal GABA uptake 80% and blocked the phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-induced stimulation of transport. Okadaic acid, a protein phosphatase inhibitor, stimulated transport 2.5-fold; a 4-fold increase in GABA uptake occurred when oocytes were treated with cyclosporin A, a specific inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2B. Modulation resulted in changes to Vmax but not to Km and was influenced by the functional expression level of the transporter protein; as expression level increased, the ability to up-regulate transporter activity decreased. Down-regulation of transporter activity was independent of expression level. Modulation did not occur through phosphorylation of the three consensus PKC sites predicted by the primary protein sequence since their removal had no effect on the susceptibility of the transporter to modulation by PMA or bisindolylmaleimide. Subcellular fractionation of oocyte membranes demonstrated that under basal level conditions, the majority of GAT1 was targeted to a cytoplasmic compartment corresponding to the trans-Golgi or low density vesicles. Stimulation of PKC with PMA resulted in a translocation of transporters from this compartment to the plasma membrane. At higher expression levels of GAT1 protein, a larger portion of GAT1 was found on the plasma membrane during basal level conditions and treatment with bisindolylmaleimide resulted in removal of these transporters from the plasma membrane. At expression levels demonstrated to be resistant to modulation by PMA, PMA-treatment still resulted in translocation of transporters from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane. Thus, the inability of PMA to increase uptake at high expression of the GAT1 protein is due to saturation at a step subsequent to translocation. These findings 1) demonstrate the presence of a novel regulated secretory pathway in oocytes and 2) suggest a modulatory mechanism for neurotransmitter transporters that could have significant effects upon synaptic function.

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