Cryo-EM structures of excitatory amino acid transporter 3 visualize coupled substrate, sodium, and proton binding and transport

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  03 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 10, eabf5814
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf5814


Human excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (hEAAT3) mediates glutamate uptake in neurons, intestine, and kidney. Here, we report cryo-EM structures of hEAAT3 in several functional states where the transporter is empty, bound to coupled sodium ions only, or fully loaded with three sodium ions, a proton, and the substrate aspartate. The structures suggest that hEAAT3 operates by an elevator mechanism involving three functionally independent subunits. When the substrate-binding site is near the cytoplasm, it has a remarkably low affinity for the substrate, perhaps facilitating its release and allowing the rapid transport turnover. The mechanism of the coupled uptake of the sodium ions and the substrate is conserved across evolutionarily distant families and is augmented by coupling to protons in EAATs. The structures further suggest a mechanism by which a conserved glutamate residue mediates proton symport.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances