In many cell types, including human erythrocytes, membrane transport of hydrophobic amino acids such as leucine and phenylalanine is mediated primarily by Na(+)-independent system L. In this paper we demonstrate that erythrocytes from the rat have a 400-fold higher system L transport capacity than human erythrocytes. We have exploited this high transport activity to achieve the first successful reconstitution of an erythrocyte amino acid transporter into phospholipid vesicles. Rat erythrocyte membranes were depleted of extrinsic membrane proteins, solubilized in 50 mM n-octyl glucoside and reconstituted into egg-yolk phospholipid vesicles by a gel filtration freeze-thaw protocol. Optimal reconstitution of transport activity occurred at lipid/protein ratios of 25-35:1. At a lipid/protein ratio of 25:1, one-half of the total uptake of L-[14C]leucine (0.2 mM, 25 degrees C) was inhibited by 2 mM phloretin and thus judged to be carrier-mediated. This component of L-leucine uptake was inhibited by non-radioactive L-phenylalanine and L-leucine, and only to a very much weaker extent by glycine and L-alanine. Two other inhibitors of system L in intact cells, MK196 and PCMBS (p-chloromercuriphenylsulphonate), were also effective inhibitors of phloretin-sensitive L-leucine transport in reconstituted proteoliposomes. Phloretin-insensitive uptake of L-leucine in proteoliposomes occurred by simple diffusion across the lipid bilayer.
- © 1993 The Biochemical Society, London