Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: The Transporter


Major Facilitator Superfamily Domain containing 2A (Mfsd2a) was recently characterized as a sodium-dependent lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) transporter expressed at the blood-brain barrier endothelium. It is the primary route for importation of docosohexaenoic acid and other long-chain fatty acids into foetal and adult brain, and is essential for mouse and human brain growth and function. Remarkably, Mfsd2a is the first identified MFS family member that uniquely transports lipids, implying that Mfsd2a harbours unique structural features and transport mechanism. Here, we present three 3D structural models of human Mfsd2a derived by homology modelling using MelB- and LacY-based crystal structures, and refined by biochemical analysis. All models revealed 12 transmembrane helices and connecting loops, and represented the partially outward-open, outward-partially occluded, and inward-open states of the transport cycle. In addition to a conserved sodium-binding site, three unique structural features were identified: A phosphate headgroup binding site, a hydrophobic cleft to accommodate a hydrophobic hydrocarbon tail, and three sets of ionic locks that stabilize the outward-open conformation. Ligand docking studies and biochemical assays identified Lys436 as a key residue for transport. It is seen forming a salt bridge with the negative charge on the phosphate headgroup. Importantly, Mfsd2a transported structurally related acylcarnitines but not a lysolipid without a negative charge, demonstrating the necessity of a negative charged headgroup interaction with Lys436 for transport. These findings support a novel transport mechanism by which LPCs are flipped within the transporter cavity by pivoting about Lys436 leading to net transport from the outer to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Electric charge, Fatty acid, Lipid, Biochemistry, Transport, The Transporter


Transport of synaptic vesicles (SVs) in nerve terminals is thought to play essential roles in maintenance of neurotransmission. To identify factors modulating SV movements, we performed real-time imaging analysis of fluorescently labeled SVs in giant calyceal and conventional hippocampal terminals. Compared with small hippocampal terminals, SV movements in giant calyceal terminals were faster, longer and kinetically more heterogeneous. Morphological maturation of giant calyceal terminals was associated with an overall reduction in SV mobility and displacement heterogeneity. At the molecular level, SVs over-expressing vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1) showed higher mobility than VGLUT2-expressing SVs. Pharmacological disruption of the presynaptic microtubule network preferentially reduced long directional movements of SVs between release sites. Functionally, synaptic stimulation appeared to recruit SVs to active zones without significantly altering their mobility. Hence, the morphological features of nerve terminals and the molecular signature of vesicles are key elements determining vesicular dynamics and movements in central synapses.

Concepts: Action potential, Heterogeneity, Glutamate transporter, Vesicle, Long-term potentiation, Chemical synapse, Synaptic vesicle, The Transporter


Hormone transporters are crucial for plant hormone action, which is underlined by severe developmental and physiological impacts caused by their loss-of-function mutations. Here, we summarize recent knowledge on the individual roles of plant hormone transporters in local and long-distance transport. Our inventory reveals that many hormones are transported by members of distinct transporter classes, with an apparent dominance of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family and of the Nitrate transport1/Peptide transporter family (NPF). The current need to explore further hormone transporter regulation, their functional interaction, transport directionalities, and substrate specificities is briefly reviewed.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Mutation, Hormone, Transport, Puberty, The Transporter, Warehouse


The Escherichia coli MalE-MalFGK2 complex is one of the best characterized members of the large and ubiquitous family of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. It is composed of a membrane-spanning heterodimer, MalF-MalG; a homodimeric ATPase, MalK2; and a periplasmic maltose receptor, MalE. Opening and closure of MalK2 is coupled to conformational changes in MalF-MalG and the alternate exposition of the substrate-binding site to either side of the membrane. To further define this alternate access mechanism and the impact of ATP, MalE and maltose on the conformation of the transporter during the transport cycle, we have reconstituted MalFGK2 in nanodiscs and analyzed its conformations under 10 different biochemical conditions using negative stain single particle EM. EM map results (at 15-25 Å resolution) indicate that binding of ATP to MalK2 promotes an asymmetric, semi-closed conformation in accordance with the low ATPase activity of MalFGK2 In the presence of MalE, the MalK dimer becomes fully closed; gaining the ability to hydrolyze ATP. In the presence of ADP or maltose, MalE·MalFGK2 remains essentially in a semi-closed symmetric conformation indicating that release of these ligands is required for the return to the initial state. Taken together, this structural information provides a rationale for the stimulation of MalK ATPase activity by MalE as well as by maltose.

Concepts: Protein, Tertiary structure, Escherichia coli, Dimer, Monomer, Transport, Conformation, The Transporter


The only known treatment of glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome (GLUT-1 DS) is a ketogenic diet (KD), which provides the brain with an alternative fuel. Studies in children with intractable epilepsy have shown that a prolonged KD can induce a progressive loss of bone mineral content associated with poor bone health status, probably as a consequence of a chronic acidic environment. The aim of this study is to determine the long-term effects of a KD on body composition and bone mineral status of patients with GLUT-1 DS, is currently unknown.

Concepts: Protein, Glucose, Petroleum, Neurology, Glucose transporter, Ketogenic diet, The Transporter, GLUT1


Nutrient acquisition is a critical determinant for the competitive advantage for auto- and osmohetero- trophs alike. Nutrient limited growth is commonly described on a whole cell basis through reference to a maximum growth rate (Gmax) and a half-saturation constant (KG). This empirical application of a Michaelis-Menten like description ignores the multiple underlying feedbacks between physiology contributing to growth, cell size, elemental stoichiometry and cell motion. Here we explore these relationships with reference to the kinetics of the nutrient transporter protein, the transporter rate density at the cell surface (TRD; potential transport rate per unit plasma-membrane area), and diffusion gradients. While the half saturation value for the limiting nutrient increases rapidly with cell size, significant mitigation is afforded by cell motion (swimming or sedimentation), and by decreasing the cellular carbon density. There is thus potential for high vacuolation and high sedimentation rates in diatoms to significantly decrease KG and increase species competitive advantage. Our results also suggest that Gmax for larger non-diatom protists may be constrained by rates of nutrient transport. For a given carbon density, cell size and TRD, the value of Gmax/KG remains constant. This implies that species or strains with a lower Gmax might coincidentally have a competitive advantage under nutrient limited conditions as they also express lower values of KG. The ability of cells to modulate the TRD according to their nutritional status, and hence change the instantaneous maximum transport rate, has a very marked effect upon transport and growth kinetics. Analyses and dynamic models that do not consider such modulation will inevitably fail to properly reflect competitive advantage in nutrient acquisition. This has important implications for the accurate representation and predictive capabilities of model applications, in particular in a changing environment.

Concepts: Protein, Human, Rates, Transport, International trade, Reaction rate, The Transporter, Jason Statham


Membrane transporters rely on highly coordinated structural transitions between major conformational states for their function, to prevent simultaneous access of the substrate binding site to both sides of the membrane-a mode of operation known as the alternating access model. Although this mechanism successfully accounts for the efficient exchange of the primary substrate across the membrane, accruing evidence on significant water transport and even uncoupled ion transport mediated by transporters has challenged the concept of perfect mechanical coupling and coordination of the gating mechanism in transporters, which might be expected from the alternating access model. Here, we present a large set of extended equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations performed on several classes of membrane transporters in different conformational states, to test the presence of the phenomenon in diverse transporter classes and to investigate the underlying molecular mechanism of water transport through membrane transporters. The simulations reveal spontaneous formation of transient water-conducting (channel-like) states allowing passive water diffusion through the lumen of the transporters. These channel-like states are permeable to water but occluded to substrate, thereby not hindering the uphill transport of the primary substrate, i.e., the alternating access model remains applicable to the substrate. The rise of such water-conducting states during the large-scale structural transitions of the transporter protein is indicative of imperfections in the coordinated closing and opening motions of the cytoplasmic and extracellular gates. We propose that the observed water-conducting states likely represent a universal phenomenon in membrane transporters, which is consistent with their reliance on large-scale motion for function.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Molecular dynamics, Atom, Diffusion, Transport, Shipping, The Transporter


3-(18) F-l-α-methyl-tyrosine ([(18) F]FAMT), a PET probe for tumor imaging, has advantages of high cancer-specificity and lower physiologic background. FAMT-PET has been proved useful in clinical studies for the prediction of prognosis, the assessment of therapy response and the differentiation of malignant tumors from inflammation and benign lesions. The tumor uptake of [(18) F]FAMT in PET is strongly correlated with the expression of L-type amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1), an isoform of system L upregulated in cancers. In this study, to assess the transporter-mediated mechanisms in FAMT uptake by tumors, we examined amino acid transporters for FAMT transport. We synthesized [(14) C]FAMT and measured its transport by human amino acid transporters expressed in Xenopus oocytes. The transport of FAMT was compared with that of l-methionine, a well-studied amino acid PET probe. The significance of LAT1 in FAMT uptake by tumor cells was confirmed by siRNA knockdown. Among amino acid transporters, [(14) C]FAMT was specifically transported by LAT1, whereas l-[(14) C]methionine was taken up by most of the transporters. Km of LAT1-mediated [(14) C]FAMT transport was 72.7μM, similar to that for endogenous substrates. Knockdown of LAT1 resulted in the marked reduction of [(14) C]FAMT transport in HeLa S3 cells, confirming the contribution of LAT1 in FAMT uptake by tumor cells. FAMT is highly specific to cancer-type amino acid transporter LAT1, which explains cancer-specific accumulation of [(18) F]FAMT in PET. This, vice versa, further supports the cancer-specific expression of LAT1. This study has established FAMT as a LAT1-specific molecular probe to monitor the expression of a potential tumor biomarker LAT1. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Transport, The Transporter


The A1470T polymorphism (rs1049434) in the monocarboxylate (lactate/pyruvate) transporter 1 gene (MCT1) has been suggested to influence athletic performance in the general population. We compared genotype distributions and allele frequencies of the MCT1 gene A1470T polymorphism between endurance athletes, sprint/power athletes and matched controls. We also examined the association between the MCT1 A1470T and the athletes' competition level (‘elite’ and ‘national’ level).

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Genotype, Allele, Evolution, Biology, The Association, The Transporter


Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is tolerant of acidic soils in which toxicity generally arises from the presence of the soluble aluminum (Al) ion. When hydrangea is cultivated in acidic soil, its resulting blue sepal color is caused by the Al complex formation of anthocyanin. The concentration of vacuolar Al in blue sepal cells can reach levels in excess of approximately 15 mM, suggesting the existence of an Al-transport and/or storage system. However, until now, no Al transporter has been identified in Al hyperaccumulating plants, animals or microorganisms. To identify the transporter being responsible for Al hyperaccumulation, we prepared a cDNA library from blue sepals according to the sepal maturation stage, and then selected candidate genes using a microarray analysis and an in silico study. Here, we identified the vacuolar and plasma membrane-localized Al transporters genes vacuolar Al transporter (VALT) and plasma membrane Al transporter 1 (PALT1), respectively, which are both members of the aquaporin family. The localization of each protein was confirmed by the transient co-expression of the genes. Reverse transcription-PCR and immunoblotting results indicated that VALT and PALT1 are highly expressed in sepal tissue. The overexpression of VALT and PALT1 in Arabidopsis thaliana conferred Al-tolerance and Al-sensitivity, respectively.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Cell, Cell membrane, The Transporter