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Mol Membr Biol. 2006 Nov-Dec;23(6):486-98.

The role of charged residues in the transmembrane helices of monocarboxylate transporter 1 and its ancillary protein basigin in determining plasma membrane expression and catalytic activity.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, Bristol, UK.


Monocarboxylate transporters MCT1-MCT4 require basigin (CD147) or embigin (gp70), ancillary proteins with a glutamate residue in their single transmembrane (TM) domain, for plasma membrane (PM) expression and activity. Here we use site-directed mutagenesis and expression in COS cells or Xenopus oocytes to investigate whether this glutamate (Glu218 in basigin) may charge-pair with a positively charged TM-residue of MCT1. Such residues were predicted using a new molecular model of MCT1 based upon the published structure of the E. coli glycerol-3-phosphate transporter. No evidence was obtained for Arg306 (TM 8) of MCT1 and Glu218 of basigin forming a charge-pair; indeed E218Q-basigin could replace WT-basigin, although E218R-basigin was inactive. No PM expression of R306E-MCT1 or D302R-MCT1 was observed but D302R/R306D-MCT1 reached the PM, as did R306K-MCT1. However, both were catalytically inactive suggesting that Arg306 and Asp302 form a charge-pair in either orientation, but their precise geometry is essential for catalytic activity. Mutation of Arg86 to Glu or Gln within TM3 of MCT1 had no effect on plasma membrane expression or activity of MCT1. However, unlike WT-MCT1, these mutants enabled expression of E218R-basigin at the plasma membrane of COS cells. We propose that TM3 of MCT1 lies alongside the TM of basigin with Arg86 adjacent to Glu218 of basigin. Only when both these residues are positively charged (E218R-basigin with WT-MCT1) is this interaction prevented; all other residue pairings at these positions may be accommodated by charge-pairing or stabilization of unionized residues through hydrogen bonding or local distortion of the helical structure.

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