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    Cationic amino acid transporters (CATs) supply cells with essential and semiessential dibasic amino acids. Among them, l-arginine is the substrate for nitric oxide synthases (NOS) to produce nitric oxide (NO), a key signaling molecule and second messenger. In cardiac preparations, we showed that NO acutely and directly modulates transport activity by noncompetitively inhibiting these CATs. We hypothesize that this NO regulation occurs through modification of cysteine residues in CAT proteins. Homology modeling and a computational chemistry approach identified Cys347 as one of two putative targets for NO binding, of 15 Cys residues present in the low-affinity mouse CAT-2A (mCAT-2A). To test this prediction, mammalian cell lines overexpressing mCAT-2A were used for site-directed mutagenesis and uptake studies. When Cys347 was replaced with alanine (Cys347Ala), mCAT-2A became insensitive to inhibition by NO donors. In addition, the transport capacity of this variant decreased by >50% compared to that of the control, without affecting membrane expression levels or apparent affinities for the transported amino acids. Interestingly, replacing Cys347 with serine (Cys347Ser) restored uptake levels to those of the control while retaining NO insensitivity. Other Cys residues, when replaced with Ala, still produced a NO-sensitive CAT-2A. In cells co-expressing NOS and mCAT-2A, exposure to extracellular l-arginine inhibited the uptake activity of control mCAT-2A, via NO production, but not that of the Cys347Ser variant. Thus, the -SH moiety of Cys347 is largely responsible for mCAT-2A inhibition by NO. Because of the endogenous NO effect, this modulation is likely to be physiologically relevant and a potential intervention point for therapeutics.


    Ruifang Zheng, Gabriela da Rosa, Pablo D Dans, R Daniel Peluffo. Molecular Determinants for Nitric Oxide Regulation of the Murine Cationic Amino Acid Transporter CAT-2A. Biochemistry. 2020 Nov 10;59(44):4225-4237

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    PMID: 33135877

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