Zhou Zhang

Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

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Publications (9)42.49 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Forward glutamate transport by the excitatory amino acid carrier EAAC1 is coupled to the inward movement of three Na(+) and one proton and the subsequent outward movement of one K(+) in a separate step. Based on indirect evidence, it was speculated that the cation binding sites bear a negative charge. However, little is known about the electrostatics of the transport process. Valences calculated using the Poisson-Boltzmann equation indicate that negative charge is transferred across the membrane when only one cation is bound. Consistently, transient currents were observed in response to voltage jumps when K(+) was the only cation on both sides of the membrane. Furthermore, rapid extracellular K(+) application to EAAC1 under single turnover conditions (K(+) inside) resulted in outward transient current. We propose a charge compensation mechanism, in which the C-terminal transport domain bears an overall negative charge of -1.23. Charge compensation, together with distribution of charge movement over many steps in the transport cycle, as well as defocusing of the membrane electric field, may be combined strategies used by Na(+)-coupled transporters to avoid prohibitive activation barriers for charge translocation.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2012; 287(32):26921-31. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M112.364059 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    Zhou Zhang · Catherine B Zander · Christof Grewer ·
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    ABSTRACT: SNAT (sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter) 2 belongs to the SLC38 (solute carrier 38) family of solute transporters. Transport of one amino acid molecule into the cell is driven by the co-transport of one Na(+) ion. The functional significance of the C-terminus of SNAT2, which is predicted to be located in the extracellular space, is currently unknown. In the present paper, we removed 13 amino acid residues from the SNAT2 C-terminus and studied the effect of this deletion on transporter function. The truncation abolished amino acid transport currents at negative membrane potentials (<0 mV), as well as substrate uptake. However, transport currents were observed at positive membrane potentials demonstrating that transport was accelerated while the driving force decreased. Membrane expression levels were normal in the truncated transporter. SNAT2(Del C-ter) (13 residues deleted from the C-terminus) showed 3-fold higher apparent affinity for alanine, and 2-fold higher Na(+) affinity compared with wild-type SNAT2, suggesting that the C-terminus is not required for high-affinity substrate and Na(+) interaction with SNAT2. The pH sensitivity of amino acid transport was retained partially after the truncation. In contrast with the truncation after TM (transmembrane domain) 11, the deletion of TM11 resulted in an inactive transporter, most probably due to a defect in cell surface expression. Taken together, the results demonstrate that the C-terminal domain of SNAT2 is an important voltage regulator that is required for a normal amino acid translocation process at physiological membrane potentials. However, the C-terminus appears not to be involved in the regulation of membrane expression.
    Biochemical Journal 02/2011; 434(2):287-96. DOI:10.1042/BJ20100507 · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The SLC38 family of solute transporters mediates the coupled transport of amino acids and Na(+) into or out of cells. The structural basis for this coupled transport process is not known. Here, a profile-based sequence analysis approach was used, predicting a distant relationship with the SLC5/6 transporter families. Homology models using the LeuT(Aa) and Mhp1 transporters of known structure as templates were established, predicting the location of a conserved Na(+) binding site in the center of membrane helices 1 and 8. This homology model was tested experimentally in the SLC38 member SNAT2 by analyzing the effect of a mutation to Thr-384, which is predicted to be part of this Na(+) binding site. The results show that the T384A mutation not only inhibits the anion leak current, which requires Na(+) binding to SNAT2, but also dramatically lowers the Na(+) affinity of the transporter. This result is consistent with a previous analysis of the N82A mutant transporter, which has a similar effect on anion leak current and Na(+) binding and which is also expected to form part of the Na(+) binding site. In contrast, random mutations to other sites in the transporter had little or no effect on Na(+) affinity. Our results are consistent with a cation binding site formed by transmembrane helices 1 and 8 that is conserved among the SLC38 transporters as well as among many other bacterial and plant transporter families of unknown structure, which are homologous to SLC38.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2009; 284(37):25314-23. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M109.038422 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glutamate transporters remove the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate from the extracellular space after neurotransmission is complete, by taking glutamate up into neurons and glia cells. As thermodynamic machines, these transporters can also run in reverse, releasing glutamate into the extracellular space. Because glutamate is excitotoxic, this transporter-mediated release is detrimental to the health of neurons and axons, and it, thus, contributes to the brain damage that typically follows a stroke. This review highlights current ideas about the molecular mechanisms underlying glutamate uptake and glutamate reverse transport. It also discusses the implications of transporter-mediated glutamate release for cellular function under physiological and patho-physiological conditions.
    International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Life 09/2008; 60(9):609-19. DOI:10.1002/iub.98 · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    Zhou Zhang · Armanda Gameiro · Christof Grewer ·
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    ABSTRACT: The neutral amino acid transporter 2 (SNAT2), which belongs to the SLC38 family of solute transporters, couples the transport of amino acid to the cotransport of one Na+ ion into the cell. Several polar amino acids are highly conserved within the SLC38 family. Here, we mutated three of these conserved amino acids, Asn82 in the predicted transmembrane domain 1 (TMD1), Tyr337 in TMD7, and Arg374 in TMD8; and we studied the functional consequences of these modifications. The mutation of N82A virtually eliminated the alanine-induced transport current, as well as amino acid uptake by SNAT2. In contrast, the mutations Y337A and R374Q did not abolish amino acid transport. The Km of SNAT2 for its interaction with Na+, KNa+, was dramatically reduced by the N82A mutation, whereas the more conservative mutation N82S resulted in a KNa+ that was in between SNAT2N82A and SNAT2WT. These results were interpreted as a reduction of Na+ affinity caused by the Asn82 mutations, suggesting that these mutations interfere with the interaction of SNAT2 with the sodium ion. As a consequence of this dramatic reduction in Na+ affinity, the apparent Km of SNAT2N82A for alanine was increased 27-fold compared with that of SNAT2WT. Our results demonstrate a direct or indirect involvement of Asn82 in Na+ coordination by SNAT2. Therefore, we predict that TMD1 is crucial for the function of SLC38 transporters and that of related families.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2008; 283(18):12284-92. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M706774200 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glutamate transport by the excitatory amino acid carrier EAAC1 is known to be reversible. Thus, glutamate can either be taken up into cells, or it can be released from cells through reverse transport, depending on the electrochemical gradient of the co- and countertransported ions. However, it is unknown how fast and by which reverse transport mechanism glutamate can be released from cells. Here, we determined the steady- and pre-steady-state kinetics of reverse glutamate transport with submillisecond time resolution. First, our results suggest that glutamate and Na(+) dissociate from their cytoplasmic binding sites sequentially, with glutamate dissociating first, followed by the three cotransported Na(+) ions. Second, the kinetics of glutamate transport depend strongly on transport direction, with reverse transport being faster but less voltage-dependent than forward transport. Third, electrogenicity is distributed over several reverse transport steps, including intracellular Na(+) binding, reverse translocation, and reverse relocation of the K(+)-bound EAAC1. We propose a kinetic model, which is based on a "first-in-first-out" mechanism, suggesting that glutamate association, with its extracellular binding site as well as dissociation from its intracellular binding site, precedes association and dissociation of at least one Na(+) ion. Our model can be used to predict rates of glutamate release from neurons under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2007; 104(46):18025-30. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0704570104 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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    Zhou Zhang · Christof Grewer ·
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    ABSTRACT: The sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter SNAT2 mediates cellular uptake of glutamine and other small, neutral amino acids. Here, we report the existence of a leak anion pathway associated with SNAT2. The leak anion conductance was increased by, but did not require the presence of, extracellular sodium. The transported substrates L-alanine, L-glutamine, and alpha-(methylamino)isobutyrate inhibited the anion leak conductance, each with different potency. A transporter with the mutation H-304A did not catalyze alanine transport but still catalyzed anion leak current, demonstrating that substrate transport is not required for anion current inhibition. Both the substrate and Na+ were able to bind to the SNAT2H-304A transporter normally. The selectivity sequence of the SNAT2H-304A anion conductance was SCN->NO3->I->Br->Cl->Mes-. Anion flux mediated by the more hydrophobic anion SCN- was not saturable, whereas nitrate flux demonstrated saturation kinetics with an apparent Km of 29 mM. SNAT2, which belongs to the SLC38 family of transporters, has to be added to the growing number of secondary, Na+-coupled transporters catalyzing substrate-gated or leak anion conductances. Therefore, we can speculate that such anion-conducting pathways are general features of Na+-transporting systems.
    Biophysical Journal 05/2007; 92(7):2621-32. DOI:10.1529/biophysj.106.100776 · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Na+-Dependent transmembrane transport of small neutral amino acids, such as glutamine and alanine, is mediated, among others, by the neutral amino acid transporters of the solute carrier 1 [SLC1, alanine serine cysteine transporter 1 (ASCT1), and ASCT2] and SLC38 families [sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter 1 (SNAT1), SNAT2, and SNAT4]. Many mechanistic aspects of amino acid transport by these systems are not well-understood. Here, we describe a new photolabile alanine derivative based on protection of alanine with the 4-methoxy-7-nitroindolinyl (MNI) caging group, which we use for pre-steady-state kinetic analysis of alanine transport by ASCT2, SNAT1, and SNAT2. MNI-alanine has favorable photochemical properties and is stable in aqueous solution. It is also inert with respect to the transport systems studied. Photolytic release of free alanine results in the generation of significant transient current components in HEK293 cells expressing the ASCT2, SNAT1, and SNAT2 proteins. In ASCT2, these currents show biphasic decay with time constants, tau, in the 1-30 ms time range. They are fully inhibited in the absence of extracellular Na+, demonstrating that Na+ binding to the transporter is necessary for induction of the alanine-mediated current. For SNAT1, these transient currents differ in their time course (tau = 1.6 ms) from previously described pre-steady-state currents generated by applying steps in the membrane potential (tau approximately 4-5 ms), indicating that they are associated with a fast, previously undetected, electrogenic partial reaction in the SNAT1 transport cycle. The implications of these results for the mechanisms of transmembrane transport of alanine are discussed. The new caged alanine derivative will provide a useful tool for future, more detailed studies of neutral amino acid transport.
    Biochemistry 04/2007; 46(12):3872-80. DOI:10.1021/bi0620860 · 3.02 Impact Factor
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    Zhen Tao · Zhou Zhang · Christof Grewer ·
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    ABSTRACT: Substrate transport by the plasma membrane glutamate transporter EAAC1 is coupled to cotransport of three sodium ions. One of these Na(+) ions binds to the transporter already in the absence of glutamate. Here, we have investigated the possible involvement of two conserved aspartic acid residues in transmembrane segments 7 and 8 of EAAC1, Asp-367 and Asp-454, in Na(+) cotransport. To test the effect of charge neutralization mutations in these positions on Na(+) binding to the glutamate-free transporter, we recorded the Na(+)-induced anion leak current to determine the K(m) of EAAC1 for Na(+). For EAAC1(WT), this K(m) was determined as 120 mm. When the negative charge of Asp-367 was neutralized by mutagenesis to asparagine, Na(+) activated the anion leak current with a K(m) of about 2 m, indicating dramatically impaired Na(+) binding to the mutant transporter. In contrast, the Na(+) affinity of EAAC1(D454N) was virtually unchanged compared with the wild type transporter (K(m) = 90 mm). The reduced occupancy of the Na(+) binding site of EAAC1(D367N) resulted in a dramatic reduction in glutamate affinity (K(m) = 3.6 mm, 140 mm [Na(+)]), which could be partially overcome by increasing extracellular [Na(+)]. In addition to impairing Na(+) binding, the D367N mutation slowed glutamate transport, as shown by pre-steady-state kinetic analysis of transport currents, by strongly decreasing the rate of a reaction step associated with glutamate translocation. Our data are consistent with a model in which Asp-367, but not Asp-454, is involved in coordinating the bound Na(+) in the glutamate-free transporter form.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2006; 281(15):10263-72. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M510739200 · 4.57 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

181 Citations
42.49 Total Impact Points


  • 2008-2012
    • Shanghai Normal University
      Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
    • Binghamton University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Binghamton, New York, United States
  • 2007
    • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
      • Department of Physiology and Biophysics
      Miami, Florida, United States