Structural basis for amino acid transport by the CAT family of SLC7 transporters.
Jungnickel KEJ., Parker JL., Newstead S.
Amino acids play essential roles in cell biology as regulators of metabolic pathways. Arginine in particular is a major signalling molecule inside the cell, being a precursor for both l-ornithine and nitric oxide (NO) synthesis and a key regulator of the mTORC1 pathway. In mammals, cellular arginine availability is determined by members of the solute carrier (SLC) 7 family of cationic amino acid transporters. Whereas CAT-1 functions to supply cationic amino acids for cellular metabolism, CAT-2A and -2B are required for macrophage activation and play important roles in regulating inflammation. Here, we present the crystal structure of a close homologue of the mammalian CAT transporters that reveals how these proteins specifically recognise arginine. Our structural and functional data provide a model for cationic amino acid transport in mammalian cells and reveals mechanistic insights into proton-coupled, sodium-independent amino acid transport in the wider APC superfamily.