ATP-dependent substrate occlusion by the human erythrocyte sugar transporter

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

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Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Human erythrocyte sugar transport presents a functional complexity that is not explained by existing models for carrier-mediated transport. It has been suggested that net sugar uptake is the sum of three serial processes: sugar translocation, sugar interaction with an intracellular binding complex, and the release from this complex into bulk cytosol. The present study was carried out to identify the erythrocyte sugar binding complex, to determine whether sugar binding occurs inside or outside the cell, and to determine whether this binding complex is affected by cytosolic ATP or transporter quaternary structure. Sugar binding assays using cells and membrane protein fractions indicate that sugar binding to erythrocytes is quantitatively accounted for by sugar binding to the hexose transport protein, GluT1. Kinetic analysis of net sugar fluxes indicates that GluT1 sugar binding sites are cytoplasmic. Intracellular ATP increases GluT1 sugar binding capacity from 1 to 2 mol of 3-O-methylglucose/mol GluT1 and inhibits the release of bound sugar into cytosol. Reductant-mediated, tetrameric GluT1 dissociation into dimeric GluT1 is associated with the loss of ATP and 3-O-methylglucose binding. We propose that sugar uptake involves GluT1-mediated, extracellular sugar translocation into an ATP-dependent cage formed by GluT1 cytoplasmic domains. Caged or occluded sugar has three possible fates: (1) transport out of the cell (substrate cycling); (2) interaction with sugar binding sites within the cage, or (3) release into bulk cytosol. We show how this hypothesis can account for the complexity of erythrocyte sugar transport and its regulation by cytoplasmic ATP.

DOI of Published Version



Biochemistry. 2000 Mar 21;39(11):3005-14.

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