Intramolecular cross-linking in a bacterial homolog of mammalian SLC6 neurotransmitter transporters suggests an evolutionary conserved role of transmembrane segments 7 and 8

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The extracellular concentration of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA and glycine is tightly controlled by plasma membrane transporters belonging to the SLC6 gene family. A very large number of putative transport proteins with a remarkable homology to the SLC6 transporters has recently been identified in prokaryotes. Here we have probed structural relationships in a 'microdoman' corresponding to the extracellular ends of transmembrane segments (TM) 7 and 8 in one of these homologs, the tryptophan transporter TnaT from Symbiobacterium thermophilum. We found that simultaneous - but not individual - substitution of Ala286 at the top of TM7 and Met311 at the top of TM8 with cysteines conferred sensitivity to submicromolar concentrations of Hg(2+) as assessed in a [(3)H]tryptophan uptake assay. Because Hg(2+) can cross-link pairs of cysteines, this suggests close proximity between TM 7 and 8 in the tertiary structure of TnaT as previously suggested for the mammalian counterparts. Furthermore, the inhibition of uptake upon cross-linking the two cysteines provides indirect support for a conserved conformational role of these transmembrane domains in the transport process. It was not possible, however, to transfer to TnaT binding sites for another metal ion, Zn(2+), that we previously engineered in the dopamine (DAT) and GABA (GAT-1) transporters between TM 7 and 8. This suggests that the structure of the TM7/8 microdomain is not identical with that of DAT and GAT-1. Hence, our data also emphasize possible structural differences that should be taken into account when interpreting future data on bacterial homologs of the SLC6 transporters.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)715-23
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

    Research areas

  • Animals, Biological Evolution, Cross-Linking Reagents, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Escherichia coli, Extracellular Space, Gene Expression, Mammals, Membrane Transport Proteins, Mercury, Mesylates, Models, Molecular, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Protein Binding, Protein Structure, Quaternary, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Structure-Activity Relationship, Tritium, Tryptophan

ID: 68495