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J Membr Biol. 2002 Mar 1;186(1):23-30.

Stable polarized expression of hCAT-1 in an epithelial cell line.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, and St. Louis Children's Hospital, One Children's Place, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Our laboratory has recently identified and cloned three cationic amino-acid transporters of human placenta. We have now examined the plasma membrane domain localization and functional expression of one of these transporters, hCAT-1, in a polarized epithelial cell line (MDCK). To facilitate identification of expressed protein we first transferred the hCAT-1 cDNA to a vector with C-terminal green fluorescent protein (GFP). The resultant hCAT-1-CT-GFP fusion protein stimulated L-[3H] lysine uptake in Xenopus oocytes. In confluent monolayers of stably transfected cells grown on porous nitrocellulose filters, saturable uptake of L-[3H] lysine from the basolateral surface was stimulated 7-fold over that of untransfected cells. Concentration-dependence studies in Na+-free medium at pH 7.4 demonstrated a Km of approximately 68 +/- 13 microM and a Vmax of 970 +/-170 pmol/mg protein/min. Uptake from the apical plasma membrane surface was negligible in both transfected and untransfected cells. Consistent with these results, confocal microscopy of confluent monolayers of hCAT-1-CT-GFP-expressing cells revealed localization of the transporter solely on the basolateral domain of the cell. This is apparently the first report of a cultured polarized epithelial cell model for stable expression of a cationic amino-acid transporter. It has the potential to aid in the identification of targeting signals for transport protein localization.

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