Role of the glutamate 185 residue in proton translocation mediated by the proton-coupled folate transporter SLC46A1

Ersin Selcuk Unal, Rongbao Zhao, I. David Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) SLC46A1 mediates uphill folate transport into enterocytes in proximal small intestine coupled to the inwardly directed proton gradient. Hereditary folate malabsorption is due to loss-of-function mutations in the PCFT gene. This study addresses the functional role of conserved charged amino acid residues within PCFT transmembrane domains with a detailed analysis of the PCFT E185 residue. D156A-, E185A-, E232A-, R148A-, and R376A-PCFT mutants lost function at pH 5.5, as assessed by transient transfection in folate transport-deficient HeLa cells. At pH 7.4, function was preserved only for E185A-PCFT. Loss of function for E185A-PCFT at pH 5.5 was due to an eightfold decrease in the [3H]methotrexate (MTX) influx V max; the MTX influx Kt was identical to that of wild-type (WT)-PCFT (1.5 μM). Consistent with the intrinsic functionality of E185A-PCFT, [3H]MTX influx at pH 5.5 or 7.4 was trans-stimulated in cells preloaded with nonlabeled MTX or 5-formyltetrahydrofolate. Replacement of E185 with Leu, Cys, His, or Gln resulted in a phenotype similar to E185A-PCFT. However, there was greater preservation of activity (∼38% of WT) for the similarly charged E185D-PCFT at pH 5.5. All E185 substitution mutants were biotin accessible at the plasma membrane at a level comparable to WT-PCFT. These observations suggest that the E185 residue plays an important role in the coupled flows of protons and folate mediated by PCFT. Coupling appears to have a profound effect on the maximum rate of transport, consistent with augmentation of a rate-limiting step in the PCFT transport cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C66-C74
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Folate transport
  • Heme carrier protein-1
  • Hereditary folate malabsorption
  • Methotrexate
  • Pemetrexed
  • Proton-coupled folate transporter/heme carrier protein-1
  • Proton-coupled transporters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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