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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10;286(23):20500-11. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.162404. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Identification of SLC38A7 (SNAT7) protein as a glutamine transporter expressed in neurons.

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Department of Neuroscience, Functional Pharmacology, Uppsala University, 75124 Uppsala, Sweden.


The SLC38 family of transporters has in total 11 members in humans and they encode amino acid transporters called sodium-coupled amino acid transporters (SNAT). To date, five SNATs have been characterized and functionally subdivided into systems A (SLC38A1, SLC38A2, and SLC38A4) and N (SLC38A3 and SLC38A5) showing the highest transport for glutamine and alanine. Here we present identification of a novel glutamine transporter encoded by the Slc38a7 gene, which we propose should be named SNAT7. This transporter has L-glutamine as the preferred substrate but also transports other amino acids with polar side chains, as well as L-histidine and L-alanine. The expression pattern and substrate profile for SLC38A7 shows highest similarity to the known system N transporters. Therefore, we propose that SLC38A7 is a novel member of this system. We used in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry with a custom-made antibody to show that SLC38A7 is expressed in all neurons, but not in astrocytes, in the mouse brain. SLC38A7 is unique in being the first system N transporter expressed in GABAergic and also other neurons. The preferred substrate and axonal localization of SLC38A7 close to the synaptic cleft indicates that SLC38A7 could have an important function for the reuptake and recycling of glutamate.

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