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EMBO J. 2002 Feb 15;21(4):580-9.

Activation of system L heterodimeric amino acid exchangers by intracellular substrates.

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Institute of Physiology and Institute of Biochemistry, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


System L-type transport of large neutral amino acids is mediated by ubiquitous LAT1-4F2hc and epithelial LAT2-4F2hc. These heterodimers are thought to function as obligatory exchangers, but only influx properties have been studied in some detail up until now. Here we measured their intracellular substrate selectivity, affinity and exchange stoichiometry using the Xenopus oocyte expression system. Quantification of amino acid influx and efflux by HPLC demonstrated an obligatory amino acid exchange with 1:1 stoichiometry. Strong, differential trans-stimulations of amino acid influx by injected amino acids showed that the intracellular substrate availability limits the transport rate and that the efflux selectivity range resembles that of influx. Compared with high extracellular apparent affinities, LAT1- and LAT2-4F2hc displayed much lower intracellular apparent affinities (apparent K(m) in the millimolar range). Thus, the two system L amino acid transporters that are implicated in cell growth (LAT1-4F2hc) and transcellular transport (LAT2-4F2hc) are obligatory exchangers with relatively symmetrical substrate selectivities but strongly asymmetrical substrate affinities such that the intracellular amino acid concentration controls their activity.

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