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J Biol Chem. 2016 Apr 8;291(15):8162-72. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.693929. Epub 2016 Feb 16.

Identification of an Extracellular Gate for the Proton-coupled Folate Transporter (PCFT-SLC46A1) by Cysteine Cross-linking.

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From the Departments of Molecular Pharmacology, Medicine.
From the Departments of Molecular Pharmacology.
Biochemistry, and Systems and Computational Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.
From the Departments of Molecular Pharmacology, Medicine,


The proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT, SLC46A1) is required for intestinal folate absorption and folate homeostasis in humans. A homology model of PCFT, based upon theEscherichia coliglycerol 3-phosphate transporter structure, predicted that PCFT transmembrane domains (TMDs) 1, 2, 7, and 11 form an extracellular gate in the inward-open conformation. To assess this model, five residues (Gln(45)-TMD1, Asn(90)-TMD2, Leu(290)-TMD7, Ser(407)-TMD11 and Asn(411)-TMD11) in the predicted gate were substituted with Cys to generate single and nine double mutants. Transport function of the mutants was assayed in transient transfectants by measurement of [(3)H]substrate influx as was accessibility of the Cys residues to biotinylation. Pairs of Cys residues were assessed for spontaneous formation of a disulfide bond, induction of a disulfide bond by oxidization with dichloro(1,10-phenanthroline)copper (II) (CuPh), or the formation of a Cd(2+)complex. The data were consistent with the formation of a spontaneous disulfide bond between the N90C/S407C pair and a CuPh- and Cd(2+)-induced disulfide bond and complex, respectively, for the Q45C/L290C and L290C/N411C pairs. The decrease in activity induced by cross-linkage of the Cys residue pairs was due to a decrease in the influxVmaxconsistent with restriction in the mobility of the transporter. The presence of folate substrate decreased the CuPh-induced inhibition of transport. Hence, the data support the glycerol 3-phosphate transporter-based homology model of PCFT and the presence of an extracellular gate formed by TMDs 1, 2, 7, and 11.


cysteine-mediated cross-linking; folate; homology modeling; membrane transport; transporter

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