Experimental dermatology

New mechanism for amino acid influx into human epidermal Langerhans cells: L-dopa/proton counter-transport system.

PMID 14705800


We have characterized a stereospecific transport mechanism for L-dopa into human epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs). It is different from any other amino acid transport system. It is highly concentrative, largely pH-independent, and independent of exogenous Na+, glucose and oxygen, and fuelled by a renewable intracellular energy source inhibited by iodoacetate but not by arsenate. We propose that the mechanism is a unidirectional L-dopa/proton counter-transport system. We have recently demonstrated anaerobic glycolysis in human epidermis, which substantiates the need of proton pumps for resident LCs. The findings prompt a re-evaluation of the profound changes LCs undergo when exposed to oxygen in aerobic culture. L-dopa is not metabolized by LCs but can rapidly be dislocated to the intercellular space by certain extracellular amino acids, i.e. LCs can profit by L-dopa in a dualistic way, altogether a remarkable biological phenomenon.