The proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) was recently identified as the major uptake route for dietary folates in humans. The three-dimensional structure of PCFT and its detailed interplay with function remain to be determined. We screened the water-accessible extracellular surface of HsPCFT using the substituted-cysteine accessibility method, to investigate the boundaries between the water-accessible surface and inaccessible buried protein segments. Single-cysteines, engineered individually at 40 positions in a functional cysteine-less HsPCFT background construct, were probed for plasma-membrane expression in Xenopus oocytes with a bilayer-impermeant primary-amine-reactive biotinylating agent (sulfosuccinimidyl 6-(biotinamido) hexanoate), and additionally for water-accessibility of the respective engineered cysteine with the sulfhydryl-selective biotinylating agent 2-((biotinoyl)amino)ethyl methanethiosulfonate. The ratio between Cys-selective over amine-selective labeling was further used to evaluate three-dimensional models of HsPCFT generated by homology/ threading modeling. The closest homologues of HsPCFT with a known experimentally-determined three-dimensional structure are all members of one of the largest membrane protein super-families, the major facilitator superfamily (MFS). The low sequence identity - 14% or less - between HsPCFT and these templates necessitates experiment-based evaluation and model refinement of homology/ threading models. With the present set of single-cysteine accessibilities, the models based on GlpT and PepTSt are most promising for further refinement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas