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Eur J Pharmacol. 2003 Oct 31;479(1-3):237-47.

The glutamate and neutral amino acid transporter family: physiological and pharmacological implications.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Kyorin University School of Medicine, 6-20-2 Shinkawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8611, Japan.


The solute carrier family 1 (SLC1) is composed of five high affinity glutamate transporters, which exhibit the properties of the previously described system XAG-, as well as two Na+-dependent neutral amino acid transporters with characteristics of the so-called "ASC" (alanine, serine and cysteine). The SLC1 family members are structurally similar, with almost identical hydropathy profiles and predicted membrane topologies. The transporters have eight transmembrane domains and a structure reminiscent of a pore loop between the seventh and eighth domains [Neuron 21 (1998) 623]. However, each of these transporters exhibits distinct functional properties. Glutamate transporters mediate transport of L-Glu, L-Asp and D-Asp, accompanied by the cotransport of 3 Na+ and one 1 H+, and the countertransport of 1 K+, whereas ASC transporters mediate Na+-dependent exchange of small neutral amino acids such as Ala, Ser, Cys and Thr. Given the high concentrating capacity provided by the unique ion coupling pattern of glutamate transporters, they play crucial roles in protecting neurons against glutamate excitotoxicity in the central nervous system (CNS). The regulation and manipulation of their function is a critical issue in the pathogenesis and treatment of CNS disorders involving glutamate excitotoxicity. Loss of function of the glial glutamate transporter GLT1 (SLC1A2) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), resulting in damage of adjacent motor neurons. The importance of glial glutamate transporters in protecting neurons from extracellular glutamate was further demonstrated in studies of the slc1A2 glutamate transporter knockout mouse. The findings suggest that therapeutic upregulation of GLT1 may be beneficial in a variety of pathological conditions. Selective inhibition of the neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1 (SLC1A1) but not the glial glutamate transporters may be of therapeutic interest, allowing blockage of glutamate exit from neurons due to "reversed glutamate transport" of EAAC1, which will occur during pathological conditions, such as during ischemia after a stroke.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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