The Journal of biological chemistry

SLC36A4 (hPAT4) is a high affinity amino acid transporter when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes.

PMID 21097500


The SLC36 family of transporters consists of four genes, two of which, SLC36A1 and SLC36A2, have been demonstrated to code for human proton-coupled amino acid transporters or hPATs. Here we report the characterization of the fourth member of the family, SLC36A4 or hPAT4, which when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes also encodes a plasma membrane amino acid transporter, but one that is not proton-coupled and has a very high substrate affinity for the amino acids proline and tryptophan. hPAT4 in Xenopus oocytes mediated sodium-independent, electroneutral uptake of [(3)H]proline, with the highest rate of uptake when the uptake medium pH was 7.4 and an affinity of 3.13 μM. Tryptophan was also an excellently transported substrate with a similarly high affinity (1.72 μM). Other amino acids that inhibited [(3)H]proline were isoleucine (K(i) 0.23 mM), glutamine (0.43 mM), methionine (0.44 mM), and alanine (1.48 mM), and with lower affinity, glycine, threonine, and cysteine (K(i) >5 mM for all). Of the amino acids directly tested for transport, only proline, tryptophan, and alanine showed significant uptake, whereas glycine and cysteine did not. Of the non-proteogenic amino acids and drugs tested, only sarcosine produced inhibition (K(i) 1.09 mM), whereas γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), β-alanine, L-Dopa, D-serine, and δ-aminolevulinic acid were without effect on [(3)H]proline uptake. This characterization of hPAT4 as a very high affinity/low capacity non-proton-coupled amino acid transporter raises questions about its physiological role, especially as the transport characteristics of hPAT4 are very similar to the Drosophila orthologue PATH, an amino acid "transceptor" that plays a role in nutrient sensing.