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FASEB J. 2013 Aug;27(8):3229-38. doi: 10.1096/fj.13-229138. Epub 2013 May 6.

Asn441 plays a key role in folding and function of the Na+/I- symporter (NIS).

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


The Na(+)/I(-) symporter (NIS) is a plasma membrane glycoprotein that mediates active I(-) transport in the thyroid, the first step in the biosynthesis of the iodine-containing thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Several NIS mutants have been identified as a cause of congenital I(-) transport defect (ITD), and their investigation has yielded valuable mechanistic information on NIS. Here we report a thorough characterization of the ITD-causing NIS mutation in which the sixth intracellular loop residues 439-443 are missing. This mutant protein was intracellularly retained, incompletely glycosylated, and intrinsically inactive. Engineering 5 Ala at positions 439-443 partially recovered cell surface targeting and activity (∼15%). Strikingly, NIS with the sequence 439-AANAA-443, in which Asn was restored at position 441, was targeted to the plasma membrane and exhibited ∼95% the transport activity of WT NIS. Based on our NIS homology model, we propose that the side chain of N441, a residue conserved throughout most of the SLC5 family, interacts with the main chain amino group of G444, capping the α-helix of transmembrane segment XII and thus stabilizing the structure of the molecule. Our data provide insight into a critical interhelical interaction required for NIS folding and activity.


congenital hypothyroidism; helix capping; interhelical interaction; plasma membrane targeting; protein folding

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