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Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) are prototypical dual function proteins that function as coupled glutamate/Na+/H+/K+ transporters and as anion-selective channels. Both transport functions are intimately intertwined at the structural level: Secondary active glutamate transport is based on elevator-like movements of the mobile transport domain across the membrane, and the lateral movement of this domain results in anion channel opening. This particular anion channel gating mechanism predicts the existence of mutant transporters with changed anion channel properties, but without alteration in glutamate transport. We here report that the L46P mutation in the human EAAT2 transporter fulfills this prediction. L46 is a pore-forming residue of the EAAT2 anion channels at the cytoplasmic entrance into the ion conduction pathway. In whole-cell patch clamp recordings, we observed larger macroscopic anion current amplitudes for L46P than for WT EAAT2. Rapid l-glutamate application under forward transport conditions demonstrated that L46P does not reduce the transport rate of individual transporters. In contrast, changes in selectivity made gluconate permeant in L46P EAAT2, and nonstationary noise analysis revealed slightly increased unitary current amplitudes in mutant EAAT2 anion channels. We used unitary current amplitudes and individual transport rates to quantify absolute open probabilities of EAAT2 anion channels from ratios of anion currents by glutamate uptake currents. This analysis revealed up to 7-fold increased absolute open probability of L46P EAAT2 anion channels. Our results reveal an important determinant of the diameter of EAAT2 anion pore and demonstrate the existence of anion channel gating processes outside the EAAT uptake cycle. © 2020 Kolen et al.


Bettina Kolen, Daniel Kortzak, Arne Franzen, Christoph Fahlke. An amino-terminal point mutation increases EAAT2 anion currents without affecting glutamate transport rates. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 Oct 30;295(44):14936-14947

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PMID: 32820048

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