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J Biol Chem. 1986 Feb 15;261(5):2256-63.

Exchange of cystine and glutamate across plasma membrane of human fibroblasts.


It is found that both the inward and outward transport of cystine and glutamate through the plasma membrane of cultured human fibroblasts is mediated mostly by a single transport system. Cystine and glutamate at one side of the membrane stimulate the passage of these amino acids present at the other side of the membrane. When the concentration of intracellular glutamate is reduced to near zero, cystine hardly enters the cell, and likewise the release of glutamate from the cell ceases when cystine is absent in the medium. Homocysteate and alpha-aminoadipate share this transport system and, when added, similarly participate in the transport process. Since the intracellular pool of cystine is negligibly small whereas that of glutamate is very large, the physiologic flows via this system are the entry of cystine and the exodus of glutamate coupled together. Measurements of the rate of uptake of cystine into the cells and the rate of release of glutamate from the cells indicate that the entry of cystine and the exodus of glutamate occur at a ratio close to 1:1. Since cystine is known to behave as an anionic form in this transport, it is concluded that the transport system for cystine and glutamate in plasma membrane of human fibroblasts is a kind of an anion-exchanging agency.

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