Differential regulation of amino acid transporter SNAT3 by insulin in hepatocytes

Sumin Gu, Carla J. Villegas, Jean X. Jiang

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37 Scopus citations


The liver is a metabolism and transfer center of amino acids as well as the prime target organ of insulin. In this report, we characterized the regulation of system N/A transporter 3 (SNAT3) in the liver of dietary-restricted mice and in hepatocytes treated with serum starvation and insulin. The expression of SNAT3 was up-regulated in dietary-restricted mice. The expression of SNAT3 protein was detected on the plasma membrane of hepatocyte-like H2.35 cells with a half-life of 6-8 h. When H2.35 cells were depleted of serum, the expression of SNAT3 was increased. An increased concentration of insulin, however, suppressed SNAT3 expression. Interestingly, the down-regulation of SNAT3 expression by insulin was blocked by the specific phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 and mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor, but not by MAPK inhibitor PD98059, suggesting that insulin exerts its effect on SNAT3 through phosphoinositide 3-kinase-mammalian target of rapamycin signaling. Surface biotinylation assay showed an increased level of SNAT3 on the cell surface after 0.5 h of insulin treatment, although no effect was observed after 24 h of treatment. Consistently, the transport of the substrate L-histidine was increased with short, but not long, treatment by insulin in both H2.35- and SNAT3-transfected COS-7 cells. The L-histidine uptake was inhibited significantly by L-histidine followed by 2-endoamino-bicycloheptane-2-carboxylic acid and L-cysteine and to a lesser extent by L-alanine and aminoisobutyric acid, but was not inhibited by α-(methyl-amino)isobutyric acid, implying that uptake of L-histidine in H2.35 cells is primarily mediated by system N transporters. In conclusion, differential regulation of SNAT3 by insulin and serum starvation reinforces the functional significance of this transporter in liver physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26055-26062
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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