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Plant Physiol. 1991 Aug;96(4):1338-44.

DeltapH-Dependent Amino Acid Transport into Plasma Membrane Vesicles Isolated from Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris L.) Leaves: II. Evidence for Multiple Aliphatic, Neutral Amino Acid Symports.

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  • 1Photosynthesis Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Urbana, Illinois 61801.


Proton-coupled aliphatic, neutral amino acid transport was investigated in plasma membrane vesicles isolated from sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L., cv Great Western) leaves. Two neutral amino acid symport systems were resolved based on inter-amino acid transport competition and on large variations in the specific activity of each porter in different species. Competitive inhibition was observed for transport competition between alanine, methionine, glutamine, and leucine (the alanine group) and between isoleucine, valine, and threonine (the isoleucine group). The apparent K(m) and K(i) values were similar for transport competition among amino acids within the alanine group. In contrast, the kinetics of transport competition between these two groups of amino acids did not fit a simple competitive model. Furthermore, members of the isoleucine group were weak transport antagonists of the alanine group. These results are consistent with two independent neutral amino acid porters. In support of that conclusion, the ratio of the specific activity of alanine transport versus isoleucine transport varied from two- to 13-fold in plasma membrane vesicles isolated from different plant species. This ratio would be expected to remain relatively stable if these amino acids were moving through a single transport system and, indeed, the ratio of alanine to glutamine transport varied less than twofold. Analysis of the predicted structure of the aliphatic, neutral amino acids in solution shows that isoleucine, valine, and threonine contain a branched methyl or hydroxyl group at the beta-carbon position that places a dense electron cloud close to the alpha-amino group. This does not occur for the unbranched amino acids or those that branch further away, e.g. leucine. We hypothesize that this structural feature of isoleucine, valine, and threonine results in unfavorable steric interactions with the alanine transport system that limits their flux through this porter. Hydrophobicity and hydrated volumes did not account for the observed differences in transport specificity.

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