Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

Boramino acid as a marker for amino acid transporters

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Science Advances  11 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500694
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500694


Amino acid transporters (AATs) are a series of integral channels for uphill cellular uptake of nutrients and neurotransmitters. Abnormal expression of AATs is often associated with cancer, addiction, and multiple mental diseases. Although methods to evaluate in vivo expression of AATs would be highly useful, efforts to develop them have been hampered by a lack of appropriate tracers. We describe a new class of AA mimics—boramino acids (BAAs)—that can serve as general imaging probes for AATs. The structure of a BAA is identical to that of the corresponding natural AA, except for an exotic replacement of the carboxylate with -BF3. Cellular studies demonstrate strong AAT-mediated cell uptake, and animal studies show high tumor-specific accumulation, suggesting that BAAs hold great promise for the development of new imaging probes and smart AAT-targeting drugs.

  • Biology
  • amino acids

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