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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jun 21;271(25):14883-90.

Cloning and functional characterization of a system ASC-like Na+-dependent neutral amino acid transporter.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Kyorin University School of Medicine, 6-20-2 Shinkawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181, Japan.


A cDNA was isolated from mouse testis which encodes a Na+-dependent neutral amino acid transporter. The encoded protein, designated ASCT2, showed amino acid sequence similarity to the mammalian glutamate transporters (40-44% identity), Na+-dependent neutral amino acid transporter ASCT1 (57% identity; Arriza, J. L., Kavanaugh, M. P., Fairman, W. A., Wu, Y.-N., Murdoch, G. H., North, R. A., and Amara, S. G.(1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268, 15329-15332; Shafqat, S., Tamarappoo, B. K., Kilberg, M. S., Puranam, R. S., McNamara, J. O., Guadano-Ferraz, A., and Fremeau, T., Jr. (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268, 15351-15355) and a mouse adipocyte differentiation-associated gene product AAAT (94% identity; Liao, K., and Lane, D.(1995) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 208, 1008-1015). When expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, ASCT2 exhibited Na+-dependent uptakes of neutral amino acids such as L-alanine, L-serine, L-threonine, L-cysteine, and L-glutamine at high affinity with Km values around 20 microM. L-Methionine, L-leucine, L-glycine, and L-valine were also transported by ASCT2 but with lower affinity. The substrate selectivity of ASCT2 was typical of amino acid transport system ASC, which prefers neutral amino acids without bulky or branched side chains. ASCT2 also transported L-glutamate at low affinity (Km = 1.6 mM). L-Glutamate transport was enhanced by lowering extracellular pH, suggesting that L-glutamate was transported as protonated form. In contrast to electrogenic transport of glutamate transporters and the other ASC isoform ASCT1, ASCT2-mediated amino acid transport was electroneutral. Na+ dependence of L-alanine uptake fits to the Michaelis-Menten equation, suggesting a single Na+ cotransported with one amino acid, which was distinct from glutamate transporters coupled to two Na+. Northern blot hybridization revealed that ASCT2 was mainly expressed in kidney, large intestine, lung, skeletal muscle, testis, and adipose tissue. Functional characterization of ASCT2 provided fruitful information on the properties of substrate binding sites and the mechanisms of transport of Na+-dependent neutral and acidic amino acid transporter family, which would facilitate the structure-function analyses based on the comparison of the primary structures of ASCT2 and the other members of the family.

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