Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Dr. Anthony Carruthers


Glucose Transporter Type 1, Biological Transport, Erythrocyte Membrane, Carrier Proteins


The structure-function relationship explains how the human erythrocyte glucose transport protein (GLUT1) catalyzes sugar transport across the plasma membrane. This work investigates the glucose transport mechanism, the structural arrangement and dynamics of GLUT1 membrane-spanning α-helices, the molecular basis for glucose transport regulation by ATP, and how cysteine accessibility contributes to GLUT1 structure.

A rapid kinetics approach was applied to examine the conformational changes GLUT1 undergoes during the transport cycle. To transition from a global to molecular focus, a novel mass spectrometry technique was developed to resolve GLUT1 sequence that is associated either with membrane embedded GLUT1 subdomains or with water exposed domains. By studying accessibility changes of specific amino acids to covalent modification by a Sulfo-NHS-LC-Biotin probe, specific protein regions associated with glucose transport modulation by ATP were identified. Finally, mass spectrometry was applied to examine cysteine residue accessibility under native and reducing conditions.

This thesis presents data supporting the isolation of an intermediate, occluded GLUT1 conformational state that temporally bridges import and export configurations during glucose translocation. Our results confirm that amphipathic α-helices line the translocation pathway and promote interactions with the aqueous environment and substrate. In addition, we show that GLUT1 is conformationally dynamic, undergoes reorganization in the cytoplasmic region in response to ATP modulation, and that GLUT1 contains differentially exposed cysteine residues that affect its folding.



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