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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 27;278(26):23502-7. Epub 2003 Apr 21.

Cloning, heterologous expression, and in situ characterization of the first high affinity nucleobase transporter from a protozoan.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Division of Infection and Immunity, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom.


While multiple nucleoside transporters, some of which can also transport nucleobases, have been cloned in recent years from many different organisms, no sequence information is available for the high affinity, nucleobase-selective transporters of metazoa, parazoa, or protozoa. We have identified a gene, TbNBT1, from Trypanosoma brucei brucei that encodes a 435-residue protein of the equilibrative nucleoside transporter superfamily. The gene was expressed in both the procyclic and bloodstream forms of the organism. Expression of TbNBT1 in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain lacking an endogenous purine transporter allowed growth on adenine as sole purine source and introduced a high affinity transport activity for adenine and hypoxanthine, with Km values of 2.1 +/- 0.6 and 0.66 +/- 0.22 microm, respectively, as well as high affinity for xanthine, guanine, guanosine, and allopurinol and moderate affinity for inosine. A transporter with an indistinguishable kinetic profile was identified in T. b. brucei procyclics and designated H4. RNA interference of TbNBT1 in procyclics reduced cognate mRNA levels by approximately 80% and H4 transport activity by approximately 90%. Expression of TbNBT1 in Xenopus oocytes further confirmed that this gene encodes the first high affinity nucleobase transporter from protozoa or animals to be identified at the molecular level.

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