Role of a conserved glycine triplet in the NSS amino acid transporter KAAT1

M. Giovanola, F. D'Antoni, M. Santacroce, S. A. Mari, F. Cherubino, E. Bossi, V. F. Sacchi, M. Castagna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


K+-coupled amino acid transporter 1 (KAAT1) belongs to the NSS family of solute transporters and it is expressed in the midgut and in salivary glands of Manduca sexta larvae. As more than 80% of family members, KAAT1 shows a stretch of three glycines (G85-G87) that according to the structure of the prototype transporter LeuT, is located close to the access of the permeation pathway. In this work the role of the triplet has been investigated by alanine and cysteine scanning methods in protein heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. All the mutants were functional but the surface expression level was reduced for G85A and G87A mutants and unaffected for G86A mutant. All presented altered amino acid uptake and transport associated currents in the presence of each of the cations (Na+, K+, Li+) that can be exploited by the wt. G87A mutant induced increased uncoupled fluxes in the presence of all the cations. Cross-linking studies, performed by the treatment of cysteine mutants with the oxidative complex Cu(II)(1,10- phenanthroline)3, showed that limiting the flexibility of the region by covalent blockage of position 87, causes a significant reduction of amino acid uptake. Na+ protected G87C mutant from oxidation, both directly and indirectly. The conserved glycine triplet in KAAT1 plays therefore a complex role that allows initial steps of cation interaction with the transporter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1737-1744
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Cation interaction
  • Cross-linking
  • Flexibility
  • Site-directed mutagenesis
  • Structure-function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biophysics


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