Identification and characterization of an amino acid transporter expressed differentially in liver

Sumin Gu, Hywel Llewelyn Roderick, Patricia Camacho, Jean X. Jiang

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81 Scopus citations


Cellular metabolic needs are fulfilled by transport of amino acids across the plasma membrane by means of specialized transporter proteins. Although many of the classical amino acid transporters have been characterized functionally, less than half of these proteins have been cloned. In this report, we identify and characterize a cDNA encoding a plasma membrane amino acid transporter. The deduced amino acid sequence is 505 residues and is highly hydrophobic with the likely predicted structure of 9 transmembrane domains, which putatively place the amino terminus in the cytoplasm and the carboxy terminus on the cell surface. Expression of the cRNA in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed strong transport activities specific for histidine and glutamine. This protein is a Na+- and pH-dependent transporter and tolerates substitution of Na+ by Li+. Furthermore, this transporter is not an obligatory exchanger because efflux occurs in the absence of influx. This transporter is expressed predominantly in the liver, although it is also present in the kidney, brain, and heart. In the liver, it is located in the plasma membrane of hepatocytes, and the strongest expression was detected in those adjacent to the central vein, gradually decreasing towards the portal tract. Because this protein displays functional similarities to the N-system amino acid transport, we have termed it mNAT, for murine N-system amino acid transporter. This is the first transporter gene identified within the N-system, one of the major amino acid transport systems in the body. The expression pattern displayed by mNAT suggests a potential role in hepatocyte physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3230-3235
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 28 2000

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