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Special Issue "Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Cesare Indiveri Website 1 Website 2 E-Mail
Department DiBEST (Biologia, Ecologia, Scienze della Terra), University of Calabria, Via P. Bucci 4c, 87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: carnitine; cell metabolism; membrane transporters; bioenergetics
Co-Guest Editor
Dr. Mariafrancesca Scalise Website E-Mail
Department DiBEST, Unit of Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology, University of Calabria, Arcavacata di Rende, Italy
Interests: proteoliposome; membrane transporters; plasma membrane; protein purification; amino acids; cancer cell line

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A Special Issue on the hot topic "Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism" is being prepared for the journal IJMS. The idea moves from the basis that amino acid homeostasis is essential for life. A complex network of enzymes and transporters cooperate to maintain homeostasis. The network is regulated in response to both cell need and nutritional state. In this frame, transporters are major players since they mediate absorption of amino acids and distribution to the entire organism. Identification, functional studies and classification of many amino acid transporters have been performed over the years using different and complementary experimental tools from ex vivo to in vitro systems, as well as in silico methodologies. The few solved structures of amino acid transporters from prokaryotes or eukaryotes recently boosted investigations of molecular mechanisms and structure/function relationships. Altered function and expression of amino acid transporters underlie severe human pathologies.

Original manuscripts and reviews dealing with specific and/or systematic aspects of amino acid transport, metabolism and pathophysiology are very welcome from outstanding experts of the topic.

Prof. Dr. Cesare Indiveri
Dr. Mariafrancesca  Scalise
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • amino acid transporters
  • bioinformatics
  • gene expression
  • post-translational modification
  • human pathology
  • transport mechanism
  • structure/function relationships
  • uniport
  • antiport
  • symport

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Targeted Suppression and Knockout of ASCT2 or LAT1 in Epithelial and Mesenchymal Human Liver Cancer Cells Fail to Inhibit Growth
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(7), 2093; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19072093 - 19 Jul 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Amino acid transporters alanine-serine-cysteine transporter 2 (ASCT2) and L-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT1) are coordinately enhanced in human cancers where among other roles, they are thought to drive mechanistic target-of-rapamycin (mTOR) growth signaling. To assess ASCT2 and LAT1 as therapeutic targets, nine [...] Read more.
Amino acid transporters alanine-serine-cysteine transporter 2 (ASCT2) and L-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT1) are coordinately enhanced in human cancers where among other roles, they are thought to drive mechanistic target-of-rapamycin (mTOR) growth signaling. To assess ASCT2 and LAT1 as therapeutic targets, nine unique short hairpin RNA (shRNA) vectors were used to stably suppress transporter expression in human epithelial (Hep3B) and mesenchymal (SK-Hep1) hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines. In addition, six unique CRISPR-Cas9 vectors were used to edit the ASCT2 (SLC1A5) and LAT1 (SLC7A5) genes in epithelial (HUH7) and mesenchymal (SK-Hep1) HCC cells. Both approaches successfully diminished glutamine (ASCT2) and leucine (LAT1) initial-rate transport proportional to transporter protein suppression. In spite of profoundly reduced glutamine or leucine transport (up to 90%), transporter suppression or knockout failed to substantially affect cellular proliferation or basal and amino acid-stimulated mTORC1 growth signaling in either HCC cell type. Only LAT1 knockout in HUH7 slightly reduced growth rate. However, intracellular accumulation of radiolabeled glutamine and leucine over longer time periods largely recovered to control levels in ASCT2 and LAT1 knockout cells, respectively, which partially explains the lack of an impaired growth phenotype. These data collectively establish that in an in vitro context, human epithelial and mesenchymal HCC cell lines adapt to ASCT2 or LAT1 knockout. These results comport with an emerging model of amino acid exchangers like ASCT2 and LAT1 as “harmonizers”, not drivers, of amino acid accumulation and signaling, despite their long-established dominant role in initial-rate amino acid transport. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessCommunication
Responsiveness of Carnosine Homeostasis Genes in the Pancreas and Brain of Streptozotocin-Treated Mice Exposed to Dietary Carnosine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(6), 1713; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19061713 - 09 Jun 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In excitable tissues, the endogenous dipeptide carnosine (CAR, β-Ala-l-His) sustains homeostatic responses to various challenges. By eliciting hypoglycemic effects via actions on the autonomic nervous system and protection of pancreatic beta-cells, CAR is also relevant in diabetes. We investigated the expression [...] Read more.
In excitable tissues, the endogenous dipeptide carnosine (CAR, β-Ala-l-His) sustains homeostatic responses to various challenges. By eliciting hypoglycemic effects via actions on the autonomic nervous system and protection of pancreatic beta-cells, CAR is also relevant in diabetes. We investigated the expression of genes involved in CAR biosynthesis, degradation, and membrane transport pathways, in the pancreas and brains of mice treated with streptozotocin (STZ) and then exposed to dietary CAR. We induced hyperglycemia by STZ intraperitoneal injections; then, STZ-treated mice received drinking water with or without CAR for two weeks. We report that CAR administration elicits beneficial effects on blood glucose levels and weight loss in STZ-treated mice and, remarkably, on the insulin gene products in the pancreas, preserving gene expression from STZ challenge. Also, we describe mRNA downregulation of the Slc15a2/Pept2 (dipeptide transporter) and Cndp2 (intracellular dipeptidase) genes in the pancreas of hyperglycemic mice, and dysregulation of Carns1 (CAR synthase), Pept2 and Cndp2 in brains; interestingly, dietary CAR elicits counteracting effects. These expression patterns associate with variations of CAR content in tissues of mice. Overall, our report suggests a direct role of CAR in the diabetes-affected pancreas and in the diabetes-targeted CNS, proposing (dys)regulation of CAR’s homeostasis as a marker condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Zebrafish, a Novel Model System to Study Uremic Toxins: The Case for the Sulfur Amino Acid Lanthionine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(5), 1323; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19051323 - 29 Apr 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The non-proteinogenic amino acid lanthionine is a byproduct of hydrogen sulfide biosynthesis: the third endogenous vasodilator gas, after nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. While hydrogen sulfide is decreased in uremic patients on hemodialysis, lanthionine is increased and has been proposed as a new [...] Read more.
The non-proteinogenic amino acid lanthionine is a byproduct of hydrogen sulfide biosynthesis: the third endogenous vasodilator gas, after nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. While hydrogen sulfide is decreased in uremic patients on hemodialysis, lanthionine is increased and has been proposed as a new uremic toxin, since it is able to impair hydrogen sulfide production in hepatoma cells. To characterize lanthionine as a uremic toxin, we explored its effects during the early development of the zebrafish (Danio rerio), a widely used model to study the organ and tissue alterations induced by xenobiotics. Lanthionine was employed at concentrations reproducing those previously detected in uremia. Light-induced visual motor response was also studied by means of the DanioVision system. Treatment of zebrafish embryos with lanthionine determined acute phenotypical alterations, on heart organogenesis (disproportion in cardiac chambers), increased heart beating, and arrhythmia. Lanthionine also induced locomotor alterations in zebrafish embryos. Some of these effects could be counteracted by glutathione. Lanthionine exerted acute effects on transsulfuration enzymes and the expression of genes involved in inflammation and metabolic regulation, and modified microRNA expression in a way comparable with some alterations detected in uremia. Lanthionine meets the criteria for classification as a uremic toxin. Zebrafish can be successfully used to explore uremic toxin effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
d-Amino Acids Are Exuded by Arabidopsis thaliana Roots to the Rhizosphere
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 1109; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19041109 - 07 Apr 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Proteinogenic l-amino acids (l-AAs) are essential in all kingdoms as building blocks of proteins. Their d-enantiomers are also known to fulfill important functions in microbes, fungi, and animals, but information about these molecules in plants is still sparse. Previously, [...] Read more.
Proteinogenic l-amino acids (l-AAs) are essential in all kingdoms as building blocks of proteins. Their d-enantiomers are also known to fulfill important functions in microbes, fungi, and animals, but information about these molecules in plants is still sparse. Previously, it was shown that d-amino acids (d-AAs) are taken up and utilized by plants, but their ways to reduce excessive amounts of them still remained unclear. Analyses of plant d-AA content after d-Ala and d-Glu feeding opened the question if exudation of d-AAs into the rhizosphere takes place and plays a role in the reduction of d-AA content in plants. The exudation of d-Ala and d-Glu could be confirmed by amino acid analyses of growth media from plants treated with these d-AAs. Further tests revealed that other d-AAs were also secreted. Nevertheless, treatments with d-Ala and d-Glu showed that plants are still able to reduce their contents within the plant without exudation. Further exudation experiments with transport inhibitors revealed that d-AA root exudation is rather passive and comparable to the secretion of l-AAs. Altogether, these observations argued against a dominant role of exudation in the regulation of plant d-AA content, but may influence the composition of the rhizosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Oligodendroglioma Cells Lack Glutamine Synthetase and Are Auxotrophic for Glutamine, but Do not Depend on Glutamine Anaplerosis for Growth
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 1099; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19041099 - 06 Apr 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In cells derived from several types of cancer, a transcriptional program drives high consumption of glutamine (Gln), which is used for anaplerosis, leading to a metabolic addiction for the amino acid. Low or absent expression of Glutamine Synthetase (GS), the only enzyme that [...] Read more.
In cells derived from several types of cancer, a transcriptional program drives high consumption of glutamine (Gln), which is used for anaplerosis, leading to a metabolic addiction for the amino acid. Low or absent expression of Glutamine Synthetase (GS), the only enzyme that catalyzes de novo Gln synthesis, has been considered a marker of Gln-addicted cancers. In this study, two human cell lines derived from brain tumors with oligodendroglioma features, HOG and Hs683, have been shown to be GS-negative. Viability of both lines depends from extracellular Gln with EC50 of 0.175 ± 0.056 mM (Hs683) and 0.086 ± 0.043 mM (HOG), thus suggesting that small amounts of extracellular Gln are sufficient for OD cell growth. Gln starvation does not significantly affect the cell content of anaplerotic substrates, which, consistently, are not able to rescue cell growth, but causes hindrance of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and protein synthesis attenuation, which is mitigated by transient GS expression. Gln transport inhibitors cause partial depletion of intracellular Gln and cell growth inhibition, but do not lower cell viability. Therefore, GS-negative human oligodendroglioma cells are Gln-auxotrophic but do not use the amino acid for anaplerosis and, hence, are not Gln addicted, exhibiting only limited Gln requirements for survival and growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Imine Deaminase Activity and Conformational Stability of UK114, the Mammalian Member of the Rid Protein Family Active in Amino Acid Metabolism
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 945; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19040945 - 22 Mar 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Reactive intermediate deaminase (Rid) protein family is a recently discovered group of enzymes that is conserved in all domains of life and is proposed to play a role in the detoxification of reactive enamines/imines. UK114, the mammalian member of RidA subfamily, was identified [...] Read more.
Reactive intermediate deaminase (Rid) protein family is a recently discovered group of enzymes that is conserved in all domains of life and is proposed to play a role in the detoxification of reactive enamines/imines. UK114, the mammalian member of RidA subfamily, was identified in the early 90s as a component of perchloric acid-soluble extracts from goat liver and exhibited immunomodulatory properties. Multiple activities were attributed to this protein, but its function is still unclear. This work addressed the question of whether UK114 is a Rid enzyme. Biochemical analyses demonstrated that UK114 hydrolyzes α-imino acids generated by l- or d-amino acid oxidases with a preference for those deriving from Ala > Leu = l-Met > l-Gln, whereas it was poorly active on l-Phe and l-His. Circular Dichroism (CD) analyses of UK114 conformational stability highlighted its remarkable resistance to thermal unfolding, even at high urea concentrations. The half-life of heat inactivation at 95 °C, measured from CD and activity data, was about 3.5 h. The unusual conformational stability of UK114 could be relevant in the frame of a future evaluation of its immunogenic properties. In conclusion, mammalian UK114 proteins are RidA enzymes that may play an important role in metabolism homeostasis also in these organisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
PKC-Mediated Modulation of Astrocyte SNAT3 Glutamine Transporter Function at Synapses in Situ
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 924; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19040924 - 21 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Astrocytes are glial cells that have an intimate physical and functional association with synapses in the brain. One of their main roles is to recycle the neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), as a component of the glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle. They perform this function [...] Read more.
Astrocytes are glial cells that have an intimate physical and functional association with synapses in the brain. One of their main roles is to recycle the neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), as a component of the glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle. They perform this function by sequestering neurotransmitters and releasing glutamine via the neutral amino acid transporter SNAT3. In this way, astrocytes regulate the availability of neurotransmitters and subsequently influence synaptic function. Since many plasma membrane transporters are regulated by protein kinase C (PKC), the aim of this study was to understand how PKC influences SNAT3 glutamine transport in astrocytes located immediately adjacent to synapses. We studied SNAT3 transport by whole-cell patch-clamping and fluorescence pH imaging of single astrocytes in acutely isolated brainstem slices, adjacent to the calyx of the Held synapse. Activation of SNAT3-mediated glutamine transport in these astrocytes was reduced to 77 ± 6% when PKC was activated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). This effect was very rapid (within ~20 min) and eliminated by application of bisindolylmaleimide I (Bis I) or 7-hydroxystaurosporine (UCN-01), suggesting that activation of conventional isoforms of PKC reduces SNAT3 function. In addition, cell surface biotinylation experiments in these brain slices show that the amount of SNAT3 in the plasma membrane is reduced by a comparable amount (to 68 ± 5%) upon activation of PKC. This indicates a role for PKC in dynamically controlling the trafficking of SNAT3 transporters in astrocytes in situ. These data demonstrate that PKC rapidly regulates the astrocytic glutamine release mechanism, which would influence the glutamine availability for adjacent synapses and control levels of neurotransmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Mutations and Ligands on the Thermostability of the l-Arginine/Agmatine Antiporter AdiC and Deduced Insights into Ligand-Binding of Human l-Type Amino Acid Transporters
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 918; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030918 - 20 Mar 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
The l-arginine/agmatine transporter AdiC is a prokaryotic member of the SLC7 family, which enables pathogenic enterobacteria to survive the extremely acidic gastric environment. Wild-type AdiC from Escherichia coli, as well as its previously reported point mutants N22A and S26A, were overexpressed homologously [...] Read more.
The l-arginine/agmatine transporter AdiC is a prokaryotic member of the SLC7 family, which enables pathogenic enterobacteria to survive the extremely acidic gastric environment. Wild-type AdiC from Escherichia coli, as well as its previously reported point mutants N22A and S26A, were overexpressed homologously and purified to homogeneity. A size-exclusion chromatography-based thermostability assay was used to determine the melting temperatures (Tms) of the purified AdiC variants in the absence and presence of the selected ligands l-arginine (Arg), agmatine, l-arginine methyl ester, and l-arginine amide. The resulting Tms indicated stabilization of AdiC variants upon ligand binding, in which Tms and ligand binding affinities correlated positively. Considering results from this and previous studies, we revisited the role of AdiC residue S26 in Arg binding and proposed interactions of the α-carboxylate group of Arg exclusively with amide groups of the AdiC backbone. In the context of substrate binding in the human SLC7 family member l-type amino acid transporter-1 (LAT1; SLC7A5), an analogous role of S66 in LAT1 to S26 in AdiC is discussed based on homology modeling and amino acid sequence analysis. Finally, we propose a binding mechanism for l-amino acid substrates to LATs from the SLC7 family. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
The Regulatory Role of MeAIB in Protein Metabolism and the mTOR Signaling Pathway in Porcine Enterocytes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030714 - 02 Mar 2018
Abstract
Amino acid transporters play an important role in cell growth and metabolism. MeAIB, a transporter-selective substrate, often represses the adaptive regulation of sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter 2 (SNAT2), which may act as a receptor and regulate cellular amino acid contents, therefore modulating [...] Read more.
Amino acid transporters play an important role in cell growth and metabolism. MeAIB, a transporter-selective substrate, often represses the adaptive regulation of sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter 2 (SNAT2), which may act as a receptor and regulate cellular amino acid contents, therefore modulating cellular downstream signaling. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of MeAIB to SNAT2 on cell proliferation, protein turnover, and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway in porcine enterocytes. Intestinal porcine epithelial cells (IPEC)-J2 cells were cultured in a high-glucose Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s (DMEM-H) medium with 0 or 5 mmoL/L System A amino acid analogue (MeAIB) for 48 h. Cells were collected for analysis of proliferation, cell cycle, protein synthesis and degradation, intracellular free amino acids, and the expression of key genes involved in the mTOR signaling pathway. The results showed that SNAT2 inhibition by MeAIB depleted intracellular concentrations of not only SNAT2 amino acid substrates but also of indispensable amino acids (methionine and leucine), and suppressed cell proliferation and impaired protein synthesis. MeAIB inhibited mTOR phosphorylation, which might be involved in three translation regulators, EIF4EBP1, IGFBP3, and DDIT4 from PCR array analysis of the 84 genes related to the mTOR signaling pathway. These results suggest that SNAT2 inhibition treated with MeAIB plays an important role in regulating protein synthesis and mTOR signaling, and provide some information to further clarify its roles in the absorption of amino acids and signal transduction in the porcine small intestine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Cys Site-Directed Mutagenesis of the Human SLC1A5 (ASCT2) Transporter: Structure/Function Relationships and Crucial Role of Cys467 for Redox Sensing and Glutamine Transport
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030648 - 25 Feb 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The human plasma membrane transporter ASCT2 is responsible for mediating Na- dependent antiport of neutral amino acids. New insights into structure/function relationships were unveiled by a combined approach of recombinant over-expression, site-directed mutagenesis, transport assays in proteoliposomes and bioinformatics. WT and Cys mutants [...] Read more.
The human plasma membrane transporter ASCT2 is responsible for mediating Na- dependent antiport of neutral amino acids. New insights into structure/function relationships were unveiled by a combined approach of recombinant over-expression, site-directed mutagenesis, transport assays in proteoliposomes and bioinformatics. WT and Cys mutants of hASCT2 were produced in P. pastoris and purified for functional assay. The reactivity towards SH reducing and oxidizing agents of WT protein was investigated and opposite effects were revealed; transport activity increased upon treatment with the Cys reducing agent DTE, i.e., when Cys residues were in thiol (reduced) state. Methyl-Hg, which binds to SH groups, was able to inhibit WT and seven out of eight Cys to Ala mutants. On the contrary, C467A loses the sensitivity to both DTE activation and Methyl-Hg inhibition. The C467A mutant showed a Km for Gln one order of magnitude higher than that of WT. Moreover, the C467 residue is localized in the substrate binding region of the protein, as suggested by bioinformatics on the basis of the EAAT1 structure comparison. Taken together, the experimental data allowed identifying C467 residue as crucial for substrate binding and for transport activity modulation of hASCT2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
l-Glutamine Attenuates Apoptosis Induced by Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress by Activating the IRE1α-XBP1 Axis in IPEC-J2: A Novel Mechanism of l-Glutamine in Promoting Intestinal Health
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(12), 2617; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122617 - 05 Dec 2017
Cited by 10
Abstract
Intestinal absorption and barrier malfunctions are associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) in the intestine. We induced ERS by exposing the intestinal porcine epithelial cell line J2 (IPEC-J2) to tunicamycin (TUNI) to explore the potential of l-glutamine to reduce ERS-induced apoptosis. Our [...] Read more.
Intestinal absorption and barrier malfunctions are associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) in the intestine. We induced ERS by exposing the intestinal porcine epithelial cell line J2 (IPEC-J2) to tunicamycin (TUNI) to explore the potential of l-glutamine to reduce ERS-induced apoptosis. Our experiments demonstrated that exposing cells to TUNI results in spontaneous ERS and encourages the upregulation of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78). Prolonged TUNI-induced ERS was found to increase apoptosis mediated by C/enhancer binding protein homologous protein (CHOP), accompanied by GRP78 downregulation. Treatment with l-glutamine was found to promote cell proliferation within the growth medium but to have little effect in basic Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium. Finally, in the milieu of TUNI-induced ERS, l-glutamine was found to maintain a high level of GRP78, alleviate CHOP-mediated apoptosis and activate the inositol requiring enzyme 1α (IRE1α)-X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1) axis. A specific inhibitor of the IRE1α-XBP1 axis reversed the protective effect of l-glutamine by blocking the expression of IRE1α/XBP1s. We propose that the functional effect of l-glutamine on intestinal health may be partly due to its modulation of ERS and CHOP-mediated apoptosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Ammonia Reduces Intracellular Asymmetric Dimethylarginine in Cultured Astrocytes Stimulating Its y+LAT2 Carrier-Mediated Loss
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(11), 2308; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18112308 - 02 Nov 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
Previously we had shown that ammonia stimulates nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in astrocytes by increasing the uptake of the precursor amino acid, arginine via the heteromeric arginine/glutamine transporter y+LAT2. Ammonia also increases the concentration in the brain of the endogenous inhibitor [...] Read more.
Previously we had shown that ammonia stimulates nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in astrocytes by increasing the uptake of the precursor amino acid, arginine via the heteromeric arginine/glutamine transporter y+LAT2. Ammonia also increases the concentration in the brain of the endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthases (NOS), asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), but distribution of ADMA surplus between the intraastrocytic and extracellular compartments of the brain has not been studied. Here we tested the hypothesis that ammonia modulates the distribution of ADMA and its analog symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) between the two compartments of the brain by competition with arginine for the y+LAT2 transporter. In extension of the hypothesis we analyzed the ADMA/Arg interaction in endothelial cells forming the blood-brain barrier. We measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS) technique the concentration of arginine, ADMA and SDMA in cultured cortical astrocytes and in a rat brain endothelial cell line (RBE-4) treated with ammonia and the effect of silencing the expression of a gene coding y+LAT2. We also tested the expression of ADMA metabolism enzymes: protein arginine methyltransferase (PRMT) and dimethylarginine dimethyl aminohydrolase (DDAH) and arginine uptake to astrocytes. Treatment for 48 h with 5 mM ammonia led to an almost 50% reduction of ADMA and SDMA concentration in both cell types, and the effect in astrocytes was substantially attenuated by silencing of the Slc7a6 gene. Moreover, the y+LAT2-dependent component of ammonia-evoked arginine uptake in astrocytes was reduced in the presence of ADMA in the medium. Our results suggest that increased ADMA efflux mediated by upregulated y+LAT2 may be a mechanism by which ammonia interferes with intra-astrocytic (and possibly intra-endothelial cell) ADMA content and subsequently, NO synthesis in both cell types. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
The Regulation and Function of the L-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT1) in Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(8), 2373; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19082373 - 12 Aug 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The progression of cancer is associated with increases in amino acid uptake by cancer cells. Upon their entry into cells through specific transporters, exogenous amino acids are used to synthesize proteins, nucleic acids and lipids and to generate ATP. The essential amino acid [...] Read more.
The progression of cancer is associated with increases in amino acid uptake by cancer cells. Upon their entry into cells through specific transporters, exogenous amino acids are used to synthesize proteins, nucleic acids and lipids and to generate ATP. The essential amino acid leucine is also important for maintaining cancer-associated signaling pathways. By upregulating amino acid transporters, cancer cells gain greater access to exogenous amino acids to support chronic proliferation, maintain metabolic pathways, and to enhance certain signal transduction pathways. Suppressing cancer growth by targeting amino acid transporters will require an in-depth understanding of how cancer cells acquire amino acids, in particular, the transporters involved and which cancer pathways are most sensitive to amino acid deprivation. L-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT1) mediates the uptake of essential amino acids and its expression is upregulated during the progression of several cancers. We will review the upstream regulators of LAT1 and the downstream effects caused by the overexpression of LAT1 in cancer cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview
On the Evolution of Specificity in Members of the Yeast Amino Acid Transporter Family as Parts of Specific Metabolic Pathways
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(5), 1398; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19051398 - 08 May 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
In the recent years, molecular modeling and substrate docking, coupled with biochemical and genetic analyses have identified the substrate-binding residues of several amino acid transporters of the yeast amino acid transporter (YAT) family. These consist of (a) residues conserved across YATs that interact [...] Read more.
In the recent years, molecular modeling and substrate docking, coupled with biochemical and genetic analyses have identified the substrate-binding residues of several amino acid transporters of the yeast amino acid transporter (YAT) family. These consist of (a) residues conserved across YATs that interact with the invariable part of amino acid substrates and (b) variable residues that interact with the side chain of the amino acid substrate and thus define specificity. Secondary structure sequence alignments showed that the positions of these residues are conserved across YATs and could thus be used to predict the specificity of YATs. Here, we discuss the potential of combining molecular modeling and structural alignments with intra-species phylogenetic comparisons of transporters, in order to predict the function of uncharacterized members of the family. We additionally define some orphan branches which include transporters with potentially novel, and to be characterized specificities. In addition, we discuss the particular case of the highly specific l-proline transporter, PrnB, of Aspergillus nidulans, whose gene is part of a cluster of genes required for the utilization of proline as a carbon and/or nitrogen source. This clustering correlates with transcriptional regulation of these genes, potentially leading to the efficient coordination of the uptake of externally provided l-Pro via PrnB and its enzymatic degradation in the cell. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview
Insights into the Structure, Function, and Ligand Discovery of the Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter 1, LAT1
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(5), 1278; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19051278 - 24 Apr 2018
Cited by 11
Abstract
The large neutral amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1, or SLC7A5) is a sodium- and pH-independent transporter, which supplies essential amino acids (e.g., leucine, phenylalanine) to cells. It plays an important role at the Blood–Brain Barrier (BBB) where it facilitates the transport of thyroid [...] Read more.
The large neutral amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1, or SLC7A5) is a sodium- and pH-independent transporter, which supplies essential amino acids (e.g., leucine, phenylalanine) to cells. It plays an important role at the Blood–Brain Barrier (BBB) where it facilitates the transport of thyroid hormones, pharmaceuticals (e.g., l-DOPA, gabapentin), and metabolites into the brain. Moreover, its expression is highly upregulated in various types of human cancer that are characterized by an intense demand for amino acids for growth and proliferation. Therefore, LAT1 is believed to be an important drug target for cancer treatment. With the crystallization of the arginine/agmatine antiporter (AdiC) from Escherichia Coli, numerous homology models of LAT1 have been built to elucidate the substrate binding site, ligand–transporter interaction, and structure–function relationship. The use of these models in combination with molecular docking and experimental testing has identified novel chemotypes of ligands of LAT1. Here, we highlight the structure, function, transport mechanism, and homology modeling of LAT1. Additionally, results from structure–function studies performed on LAT1 are addressed, which have enhanced our knowledge of the mechanism of substrate binding and translocation. This is followed by a discussion on ligand- and structure-based approaches, with an emphasis on elucidating the molecular basis of LAT1 inhibition. Finally, we provide an exhaustive summary of different LAT1 inhibitors that have been identified so far, including the recently discovered irreversible covalent inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview
Tribute to Marcelle Grenson (1925–1996), A Pioneer in the Study of Amino Acid Transport in Yeast
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 1207; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19041207 - 16 Apr 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The year 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Marcelle Grenson and the 50th anniversary of her first publication on yeast amino acid transport, the topic to which, as Professor at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), she devoted the major [...] Read more.
The year 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Marcelle Grenson and the 50th anniversary of her first publication on yeast amino acid transport, the topic to which, as Professor at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), she devoted the major part of her scientific career. M. Grenson was the first scientist in Belgium to introduce and apply genetic analysis in yeast to dissect the molecular mechanisms that were underlying complex problems in biology. Today, M. Grenson is recognized for the pioneering character of her work on the diversity and regulation of amino acid transporters in yeast. The aim of this tribute is to review the major milestones of her forty years of scientific research that were conducted between 1950 and 1990. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview
Structure-Function Relationship of Transporters in the Glutamate–Glutamine Cycle of the Central Nervous System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 1177; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19041177 - 12 Apr 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Many kinds of transporters contribute to glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission. Glutamate is loaded into synaptic vesicles by vesicular glutamate transporters to be released from presynaptic terminals. After synaptic vesicle release, glutamate is taken up by neurons or astrocytes to terminate the signal and [...] Read more.
Many kinds of transporters contribute to glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission. Glutamate is loaded into synaptic vesicles by vesicular glutamate transporters to be released from presynaptic terminals. After synaptic vesicle release, glutamate is taken up by neurons or astrocytes to terminate the signal and to prepare for the next signal. Glutamate transporters on the plasma membrane are responsible for transporting glutamate from extracellular fluid to cytoplasm. Glutamate taken up by astrocyte is converted to glutamine by glutamine synthetase and transported back to neurons through glutamine transporters on the plasma membranes of the astrocytes and then on neurons. Glutamine is converted back to glutamate by glutaminase in the neuronal cytoplasm and then loaded into synaptic vesicles again. Here, the structures of glutamate transporters and glutamine transporters, their conformational changes, and how they use electrochemical gradients of various ions for substrate transport are summarized. Pharmacological regulations of these transporters are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview
Branched Chain Amino Acids: Beyond Nutrition Metabolism
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(4), 954; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19040954 - 23 Mar 2018
Cited by 34
Abstract
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), including leucine (Leu), isoleucine (Ile), and valine (Val), play critical roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis, nutrition metabolism, gut health, immunity and disease in humans and animals. As the most abundant of essential amino acids (EAAs), BCAAs [...] Read more.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), including leucine (Leu), isoleucine (Ile), and valine (Val), play critical roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis, nutrition metabolism, gut health, immunity and disease in humans and animals. As the most abundant of essential amino acids (EAAs), BCAAs are not only the substrates for synthesis of nitrogenous compounds, they also serve as signaling molecules regulating metabolism of glucose, lipid, and protein synthesis, intestinal health, and immunity via special signaling network, especially phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) signal pathway. Current evidence supports BCAAs and their derivatives as the potential biomarkers of diseases such as insulin resistance (IR), type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), cancer, and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). These diseases are closely associated with catabolism and balance of BCAAs. Hence, optimizing dietary BCAA levels should have a positive effect on the parameters associated with health and diseases. This review focuses on recent findings of BCAAs in metabolic pathways and regulation, and underlying the relationship of BCAAs to related disease processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Amino Acid Metabolism and Transport Mechanisms as Potential Antifungal Targets
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 909; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030909 - 19 Mar 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Discovering new drugs for treatment of invasive fungal infections is an enduring challenge. There are only three major classes of antifungal agents, and no new class has been introduced into clinical practice in more than a decade. However, recent advances in our understanding [...] Read more.
Discovering new drugs for treatment of invasive fungal infections is an enduring challenge. There are only three major classes of antifungal agents, and no new class has been introduced into clinical practice in more than a decade. However, recent advances in our understanding of the fungal life cycle, functional genomics, proteomics, and gene mapping have enabled the identification of new drug targets to treat these potentially deadly infections. In this paper, we examine amino acid transport mechanisms and metabolism as potential drug targets to treat invasive fungal infections, including pathogenic yeasts, such as species of Candida and Cryptococcus, as well as molds, such as Aspergillus fumigatus. We also explore the mechanisms by which amino acids may be exploited to identify novel drug targets and review potential hurdles to bringing this approach into clinical practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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Amino Acid Transporters and Glutamine Metabolism in Breast Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030907 - 19 Mar 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
Amino acid transporters are membrane transport proteins, most of which are members of the solute carrier families. Amino acids are essential for the survival of all types of cells, including tumor cells, which have an increased demand for nutrients to facilitate proliferation and [...] Read more.
Amino acid transporters are membrane transport proteins, most of which are members of the solute carrier families. Amino acids are essential for the survival of all types of cells, including tumor cells, which have an increased demand for nutrients to facilitate proliferation and cancer progression. Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women worldwide and is still associated with high mortality rates, despite improved treatment strategies. Recent studies have demonstrated that the amino acid metabolic pathway is altered in breast cancer and that amino acid transporters affect tumor growth and progression. In breast cancer, glutamine is one of the key nutrients, and glutamine metabolism is closely related to the amino acid transporters. In this review, we focus on amino acid transporters and their roles in breast cancer. We also highlight the different subsets of upregulated amino acid transporters in breast cancer and discuss their potential applications as treatment targets, cancer imaging tracers, and drug delivery components. Glutamine metabolism as well as its regulation and therapeutic implication in breast cancer are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amino Acids Transport and Metabolism)
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