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1.  Glutamate transporter EAAT2: a new target for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases 
Future medicinal chemistry  2012;4(13):1689-1700.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the CNS. The concentration of glutamate in the synaptic cleft is tightly controlled by interplay between glutamate release and glutamate clearance. Abnormal glutamate release and/or dysfunction of glutamate clearance can cause overstimulation of glutamate receptors and result in neuronal injury known as excitotoxicity. The glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 plays a major role in glutamate clearance. Dysfunction or reduced expression of EAAT2 has been documented in many neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, many studies in animal models of disease indicate that increased EAAT2 expression provides neuronal protection. Here, we summarize these studies and suggest that EAAT2 is a potential target for the prevention of excitotoxicity. EAAT2 can be upregulated by transcriptional or translational activation. We discuss current progress in the search for EAAT2 activators, which is a promising direction for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3580837  PMID: 22924507
2.  Harmine, A Natural Beta-Carboline Alkaloid, Upregulates Astroglial Glutamate Transporter Expression 
Neuropharmacology  2010;60(7-8):1168-1175.
Glutamate is the predominant excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Glutamate transporter EAAT2 /GLT-1 is the physiologically dominant astroglial protein that inactivates synaptic glutamate. Previous studies have shown that EAAT2 dysfunction leads to excessive extracellular glutamate and may contribute to various neurological disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The recent discovery of the neuroprotective properties of ceftriaxone, a beta lactam antibiotic, suggested that increasing EAAT2 /GLT-1 gene expression might be beneficial in ALS and other neurological/psychiatric disorders by augmenting astrocytic glutamate uptake. Here we report our efforts to develop a new screening assay for identifying compounds that activate EAAT2 gene expression. We generated fetal derived-human immortalized astroglial cells that are stably expressing a firefly luciferase reporter under the control of the human EAAT2 promoter. When screening a library of 1040 FDA approved compounds and natural products, we identified harmine, a naturally occurring beta-carboline alkaloid, as one of the top hits for activating the EAAT2 promoter. We further tested harmine in our in vitro cell culture systems and confirmed its ability to increase EAAT2/GLT1 gene expression and functional glutamate uptake activity. We next tested its efficacy in both wild type animals and in an ALS animal model of disease and demonstrated that harmine effectively increased GLT-1 protein and glutamate transporter activity in vivo. Our studies provide potential novel neurotherapeutics by modulating the activity of glutamate transporters via gene activation.
PMCID: PMC3220934  PMID: 21034752
harmine; GLT-1; EAAT2; glutamate transporter; astroglia; ALS
3.  Abnormal Expression of Glutamate Transporter and Transporter Interacting Molecules in Prefrontal Cortex in Elderly Patients with Schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia research  2008;104(1-3):108-120.
Glutamate cycling is critically important for neurotransmission, and may be altered in schizophrenia. The excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) facilitate the reuptake of glutamate from the synaptic cleft and have a key role in glutamate cycling. We hypothesized that expression of the EAATs and the EAAT regulating proteins ARHGEF11, JWA, G protein suppressor pathway 1 (GPS1), and KIAA0302 are altered in the brain in schizophrenia. To test this, we measured expression of EAAT1, EAAT2, EAAT3, and EAAT interacting proteins in postmortem tissue from the dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex of patients with schizophrenia and a comparison group using in situ hybridization and Western blot analysis. We found increased EAAT1 transcripts and decreased protein expression, increased EAAT3 transcripts and protein, and elevated protein expression of both GPS1 and KIAA0302 protein. We did not find any changes in expression of EAAT2. These data indicate that proteins involved in glutamate reuptake and cycling are altered in the cortex in schizophrenia, and may provide potential targets for future treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC2656372  PMID: 18678470
GPS1; anterior cingulate cortex; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; postmortem; Western blot; in situ hybridization
4.  Identification of Translational Activators of Glial Glutamate Transporter EAAT2 through Cell-Based High-Throughput Screening: An Approach to Prevent Excitotoxicity 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2010;15(6):653-662.
Excitotoxicity has been implicated as the mechanism of neuronal damage resulting from acute insults such as stroke, epilepsy, and trauma, as well as during the progression of adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Excitotoxicity is defined as excessive exposure to the neurotransmitter glutamate or overstimulation of its membrane receptors, leading to neuronal injury or death. One potential approach to protect against excitotoxic neuronal damage is enhanced glutamate reuptake. The glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is the quantitatively dominant glutamate transporter and plays a major role in clearance of glutamate. Expression of EAAT2 protein is highly regulated at the translational level. In an effort to identify compounds that can induce translation of EAAT2 transcripts, a cell-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was developed using a primary astrocyte line stably transfected with a vector designed to identify modulators of EAAT2 translation. This assay was optimized for high-throughput screening, and a library of approximately 140,000 compounds was tested. In the initial screen, 293 compounds were identified as hits. These 293 hits were retested at 3 concentrations, and a total of 61 compounds showed a dose-dependent increase in EAAT2 protein levels. Selected compounds were tested in full 12-point dose-response experiments in the screening assay to assess potency as well as confirmed by Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and glutamate uptake assays to evaluate the localization and function of the elevated EAAT2 protein. These hits provide excellent starting points for developing therapeutic agents to prevent excitotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3016154  PMID: 20508255
excitotoxicity; glutamate transporter; EAAT2; high-throughput screen; neurodegeneration
5.  Glutamate transporter type 3 knockout mice have a decreased isoflurane requirement to induce loss of righting reflex 
Neuroscience  2010;171(3):788-793.
Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAAT) uptake extracellular glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. EAAT type 3 (EAAT3), the main neuronal EAAT, is expressed widely in the central nervous system. We have shown that the volatile anesthetic isoflurane increases EAAT3 activity and trafficking to the plasma membrane. Thus, we hypothesize that EAAT3 mediates isoflurane-induced anesthesia. To test this hypothesis, the potency of isoflurane to induce immobility and hypnosis, two major components of general anesthesia, was compared in the CD-1 wild-type mice and EAAT knockout mice that had a CD-1 strain gene background. Hypnosis was assessed by loss of righting reflex in this study. The expression of EAAT1 and EAAT2, two widely expressed EAATs in the central nervous system, in the cerebral cortex and spinal cord was not different between the EAAT3 knockout mice and wild-type mice. The concentration required for isoflurane to cause immobility to painful stimuli, a response involving primarily reflex loops in the spinal cord, was not changed by EAAT3 knockout. However, the EAAT3 knockout mice were more sensitive to isoflurane-induced hypnotic effects, which may be mediated by hypothalamic sleep neural circuits. Interestingly, the EAAT3 knockout mice did not have an altered sensitivity to the hypnotic effects caused by ketamine, an intravenous anesthetic that is a glutamate receptor antagonist and does not affect EAAT3 activity. These results suggest that EAAT3 modulates the sensitivity of neural circuits to isoflurane. These results, along with our previous findings that isoflurane increases EAAT3 activity, indicate that EAAT3 may regulate isoflurane-induced behavioral changes, including anesthesia.
PMCID: PMC3401886  PMID: 20875840
anesthesia; glutamate transporter; gene expression; hypnosis; isoflurane
6.  Critical role of S465 in protein kinase C-increased rat glutamate transporter type 3 activity 
Glutamate transporters, also called excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs), uptake extracellular glutamate and regulate neurotransmission. Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) increases the activity of EAAT type 3 (EAAT3), the major neuronal EAAT. We designed this study to determine which amino acid residue(s) in EAAT3 may be involved in this PKC effect. Selective potential PKC phosphorylation sites were mutated. These EAAT3 mutants were expressed in the Xenopus oocytes. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, a PKC activator, significantly increased wild-type EAAT3 activity. Mutation of serine 465 to alanine or to aspartic acid, but not the mutation of threonine 5 to alanine, abolished PKC-increased EAAT3 activity. Our results suggest a critical role of serine 465 in the increased EAAT3 activity by PKC activation.
PMCID: PMC2780444  PMID: 19922365
Glutamate; glutamate transporter; protein kinase C; site-directed mutagenesis
7.  Aberrant Detergent-Insoluble Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2 Accumulates in Alzheimer Disease 
Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by deposition of amyloid-β, tau, and other specific proteins that accumulate in the brain in detergent-insoluble complexes. AD also involves glutamatergic neurotransmitter system disturbances. Excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) is the dominant glutamate transporter in cerebral cortex and hippocampus. We investigated whether accumulation of detergent-insoluble EAAT2 is related to cognitive impairment and neuropathologic changes in AD by quantifying detergent-insoluble EAAT2 levels in hippocampus and frontal cortex of cognitively normal patients, patients with clinical dementia rating (CDR) = 0.5 (mildly impaired), and AD patients. Parkinson disease (PD) patients served as neurodegenerative disease controls. We found that Triton X-100-insoluble EAAT2 levels were significantly increased in patients with AD compared to controls, while Triton X-100-insoluble EAAT2 levels in CDR = 0.5 patients were intermediately elevated between control and AD subjects. Detergent-insolubility of Presenilin-1, a structurally similar protein, did not differ among the groups, thus arguing EAAT2 detergent-insolubility was not due to nonspecific cellular injury. These findings demonstrate that detergent-insoluble EAAT2 accumulation is a progressive biochemical lesion that correlates with cognitive impairment and neuropathologic changes in AD. These findings lend further support to the idea that dysregulation of the glutamatergic system may play a significant role in AD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3097122  PMID: 20535038
Glutamate; Alzheimer disease; EAAT2; Excitotoxicity; Mild cognitive impairment; Protein aggregation; Oxidative stress; SLC1A2
8.  ENT1 Regulates Ethanol-Sensitive EAAT2 Expression and Function in Astrocytes 
Equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1) and excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) are predominantly expressed in astrocytes where they are thought to regulate synaptic adenosine and glutamate levels. Because mice lacking ENT1 display increased glutamate levels in the ventral striatum, we investigated whether ENT1 regulates the expression and function of EAAT2 in astrocytes, which could contribute to altered glutamate levels in the striatum.
We examined the effect of ENT1 inhibition and overexpression on the expression of EAAT2 using quantitative real-time PCR and measured glutamate uptake activity in cultured astrocytes. We also examined the effect of 0 to 200 mM ethanol doses for 0 to 24 hours of ethanol exposure on EAAT2 expression and glutamate uptake activity. We further examined the effect of ENT1 knockdown by a specific siRNA on ethanol-induced EAAT2 expression.
An ENT1-specific antagonist and siRNA treatments significantly reduced both EAAT2 expression and glutamate uptake activity while ENT1 overexpression up-regulated EAAT2 mRNA expression. Interestingly, 100 or 200 mM ethanol exposure increased EAAT2 mRNA expression as well as glutamate uptake activity. Moreover, we found that ENT1 knockdown inhibited the ethanol-induced EAAT2 up-regulation.
Our results suggest that ENT1 regulates glutamate uptake activity by altering EAAT2 expression and function, which might be implicated in ethanol intoxication and preference.
PMCID: PMC2913860  PMID: 20374202
Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2 (EAAT2); Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter 1 (ENT1); Glutamate Uptake; Adenosine Uptake
9.  Epigenetic Regulation of Neuron-Dependent Induction of Astroglial Synaptic Protein GLT1 
Glia  2010;58(3):277-286.
Astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2/GLT1 prevents glutamate-induced excitotoxicity in the central nervous system. Expression of EAAT2/GLT1 is dynamically regulated by neurons. The pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves astroglial dysfunction, including dramatic loss of EAAT2/GLT1. DNA methylation of gene promoters represents one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms in regulating gene expression. The involvement of DNA methylation in the regulation of astroglial EAAT2/GLT1 expression in different conditions, especially in ALS has not been explored. In this study, we established a procedure to selectively isolate a pure astrocyte population in vitro and in vivo from BAC GLT1 eGFP mice using an eGFP-based fluorescence-activated cell sorting approach. Astrocytes isolated from this procedure are GFAP+ and GLT1+ and respond to neuronal stimulation, enabling direct methylation analysis of GLT1 promoter in these astrocytes. To investigate the role of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological EAAT2/GLT1 expression, methylation status of the EAAT2/GLT1 promoter was analyzed in astrocytes from in vitro and in vivo paradigms or postmortem ALS motor cortex by bisulfite sequencing method. DNA demethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter was highly correlated to increased GLT1 mRNA levels in astrocytes in response to neuronal stimulation; however, low level of methylation was found on CpG sites of EAAT2 promoter from postmortem motor cortex of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. In summary, hypermethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter is involved in repression of GLT1 promoter activation, but this regulation does not play a role in astroglial dysfunction of EAAT2 expression in patients with ALS.
PMCID: PMC2794958  PMID: 19672971
epigenetic; astrocyte; GLT1
10.  Inhibition of isoflurane-induced increase of cell-surface redistribution and activity of glutamate transporter type 3 by serine 465 sequence-specific peptides 
European journal of pharmacology  2011;655(1-3):16-22.
Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAAT) transport glutamate into cells to regulate glutamate neurotransmission and to maintain nontoxic extracellular glutamate levels for neurons. We showed previously that the commonly used volatile anesthetic isoflurane increases the transporting activity of EAAT3, the major neuronal EAAT. This effect requires a protein kinase C (PKC) α-mediated and S465-dependent EAAT3 redistribution to the plasma membrane. Thus, we hypothesize that specific peptides can be designed to block this effect. We conjugated a 10-amino acid synthetic peptide with a sequence identical to that of EAAT3 around the S465 to a peptide that can facilitate permeation of the plasma membrane. This fusion peptide inhibited the isoflurane-increased EAAT3 activity and redistribution to the plasma membrane in C6 cells and hippocampus. It did not affect the basal EAAT3 activity. This peptide also attenuated isoflurane-induced increase of PKCα in the immunoprecipitates produced by an anti-EAAT3 antibody. A scrambled peptide that has the same amino acid composition as the S465 sequence-specific peptide but has a random sequence did not change the effects of isoflurane on EAAT3. The S465 sequence-specific peptide, but not the scrambled peptide, is a good PKCα substrate in in vitro assay. These peptides did not affect cell viability. These results, along with our previous findings, strongly suggest that PKCα interacts with EAAT3 to regulate its functions. The S465 sequence-specific peptide may interrupt this interaction and is an effective inhibitor for the regulation of EAAT3 activity and trafficking by PKCα and isoflurane.
PMCID: PMC3055949  PMID: 21266171
glutamate transporters; isoflurane; neurons; peptide inhibitor; protein kinase C; trafficking
11.  Regional Distribution of Sodium-Dependent Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters in Rat Spinal Cord 
The excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs), or sodium-dependent glutamate transporters, provide the primary mechanism for glutamate removal from the synaptic cleft. EAAT distribution has been determined in the rat brain, but it is only partially characterized in the spinal cord.
The regional anatomic distribution of EAATs in spinal cord was assessed by radioligand autoradiography throughout cervical, thoracic, and lumbar cord levels in female Sprague-Dawley rats. EAAT subtype regional distribution was evaluated by inclusion of pharmacologic transport inhibitors in the autoradiography assays and by immunohistochemistry using subtype-specific polyclonal antibodies to rat GLT1 (EAAT2), GLAST (EAAT1), and EAAC1 (EAAT3) rat transporter subtypes.
[3H]-D-Aspartate binding was distributed throughout gray matter at the 3 spinal cord levels, with negligible binding in white matter. Inclusion of pharmacologic transport inhibitors indicates that the EAAT2/GLT1 subtype represents 21% to 40% of binding. Both EAAT1/GLAST and EAAT3/EAAC1 contributed the remainder of binding. Immunoreactivity to subtype-specific antibodies varied, depending on cord level, and was present in both gray and white matter. All 3 subtypes displayed prominent immunoreactivity in the dorsal horn. EAAT3/EAAC1 and to a lesser extent EAAT1/GLAST immunoreactivity also occurred in a punctate pattern in the ventral horn.
The results indicate heterogeneity of EAAT distribution among spinal cord levels and regions. The presence of these transporters throughout rat spinal cord suggests the importance of their contributions to spinal cord function.
PMCID: PMC2031954  PMID: 17684893
Spinal cord; Glutamate plasma membrane proteins; Autoradiography; Immunohistochemistry; Amino acid transporters, Excitatory
12.  The EAAT2 (GLT-1) gene in motor neuron disease: absence of mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and a point mutation in patients with hereditary spastic paraplegia 
OBJECTIVES—To investigate if sequence alterations of the excitatory amino acid transporter gene EAAT2 (GLT-1) may be a contributory factor to the pathogenesis of motor system degeneration. EAAT2 serves as a candidate gene as its reduced expression was reported in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Furthermore, neurolathyrism, a motor neuron disease clinically related to hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), has been associated with an exogenous excitotoxin.
METHODS—Sequence alterations were screened for in the coding region of EAAT2 in 55 patients with ALS and one family with autosomal dominant HSP (AD-HSP).
RESULTS—In ALS, no sequence alteration in the EAAT2 gene have been found. Interestingly, a heterozygous A79G mutation of the EAAT2 gene was detected in two of seven affected patients with AD-HSP in the same kindred. The absence of cosegregation with the familial disease showed that the detected variant was not the cause of disease. The A79G sequence variant was not found in 55 patients with ALS or in 50 non-neurological controls.
CONCLUSION—The allelic variant of the EAAT2 gene in conjunction with the primary gene defect may be a modifying factor for the highly variable AD-HSP phenotype.

PMCID: PMC2170294  PMID: 9771796
13.  Expression of EAAT2 in Neurons and Protoplasmic Astrocytes during Human Cortical Development 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2012;520(17):3912-3932.
The major regulators of synaptic glutamate in the cerebral cortex are the excitatory amino acid transporters 1–3 (EAAT1–3). In this study, we determined the cellular and temporal expression of EAAT1–3 in the developing human cerebral cortex. We applied single- and double-label immunocytochemistry to normative frontal or parietal (associative) cortex samples from 14 cases ranging in age from 23 gestational weeks to 2.5 postnatal years. The most striking finding was the transient expression of EAAT2 in layer V pyramidal neuronal cell bodies up until 8 postnatal months prior to its expression in protoplasmic astrocytes at 41 postconceptional weeks onward. EAAT2 was also expressed in neurons in layer I (presumed Cajal-Retzius cells), and white matter (interstitial) neurons. This expression in neurons in the developing human cortex contrasts with findings by others of transient expression exclusively in axon tracts in the developing sheep and rodent brain. With western blotting, we found that EAAT2 was expressed as a single band until two postnatal months after which it was expressed as two bands. The expression of EAAT2 in pyramidal neurons during human brain development may contribute to cortical vulnerability to excitotoxicity during the critical period for perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. In addition, by studying the expression of EAAT1 and EAAT2 glutamate transporters it was possible to document the development of protoplasmic astrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3781602  PMID: 22522966
Cajal-Retzius cell; ischemia; periventricular leukomalacia; prematurity; pyramidal; subplate; cerebral palsy
14.  Disturbed Neurotransmitter Transporter Expression in Alzheimer Disease Brain 
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by memory loss and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. An imbalance of different neurotransmitters – glutamate, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin - has been proposed as the neurobiological basis of behavioral symptoms in AD. The molecular changes associated with neurotransmission imbalance in AD are not clear. We hypothesized that altered reuptake of neurotransmitters by vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs), excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs), the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT), the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT), or the dopamine reuptake transporter (DAT)) are involved in the neurotransmission imbalance in AD. We tested this hypothesis by examining protein and mRNA levels of these transporters in postmortem prefrontal cortex from 10 AD patients and 10 matched non-AD controls. Compared with controls, protein and mRNA levels of VGLUTs, EAAT1–3, VAChT, and SERT were reduced significantly in AD. Expression of DAT and catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) was unchanged. Reduced VGLUTs and EAATs may contribute to an alteration in glutamatergic recycling, and reduced SERT could exacerbate depressive symptoms in AD. The reduced VAChT expression could contribute to the recognized cholinergic deficit in AD. Altered neurotransmitter transporters could contribute to the pathophysiology of AD and are potential targets for therapy.
PMCID: PMC3188700  PMID: 21743130
Alzheimer disease; dopamine transporter; excitatory amino acid; vesicular acetylcholine; serotonin; frontal cortex; COMT; vesicular glutamate transporter
15.  Motor neuron impairment mediated by a sumoylated fragment of the glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 
Glia  2011;59(11):1719-1731.
Dysregulation of glutamate handling ensuing downregulation of expression and activity levels of the astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is implicated in excitotoxic degeneration of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We previously reported that EAAT2 (a.k.a. GLT-1) is cleaved by caspase-3 at its cytosolic carboxy-terminus domain. This cleavage results in impaired glutamate transport activity and generates a proteolytic fragment (CTE) that we found to be post-translationally conjugated by SUMO1. We show here that this sumoylated CTE fragment accumulates in the nucleus of spinal cord astrocytes of the SOD1-G93A mouse model of ALS at symptomatic stages of disease. Astrocytic expression of CTE, artificially tagged with SUMO1 (CTE-SUMO1) to mimic the native sumoylated fragment, recapitulates the nuclear accumulation pattern of the endogenous EAAT2-derived proteolytic fragment. Moreover, in a co-culture binary system, expression of CTE-SUMO1 in spinal cord astrocytes initiates extrinsic toxicity by inducing caspase-3 activation in motor neuron-derived NSC-34 cells or axonal growth impairment in primary motor neurons. Interestingly, prolonged nuclear accumulation of CTE-SUMO1 is intrinsically toxic to spinal cord astrocytes, although this gliotoxic effect of CTE-SUMO1 occurs later than the indirect, non-cell autonomous toxic effect on motor neurons. As more evidence on the implication of SUMO substrates in neurodegenerative diseases emerges, our observations strongly suggest that the nuclear accumulation in spinal cord astrocytes of a sumoylated proteolytic fragment of the astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2 could participate to the pathogenesis of ALS and suggest a novel, unconventional role for EAAT2 in motor neuron degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3896305  PMID: 21769946
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; post-translational modification; SUMO; excitotoxicity
16.  Abnormal Glycosylation of EAAT1 and EAAT2 in Prefrontal Cortex of Elderly Patients with Schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia research  2009;117(1):92.
The excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) are a family of molecules that are essential for regulation of synaptic glutamate levels. The EAATs may also be regulated by N-glycosylation, a posttranslational modification that is critical for many cellular functions including localization in the plasma membrane. We hypothesized that glycosylation of the EAATs is abnormal in schizophrenia. To test this hypothesis, we treated postmortem tissue from the dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices of patients with schizophrenia and comparison subjects with deglycosylating enzymes. We then measured the resulting shifts in molecular weight of the EAATs using Western blot analysis to determine the mass of glycans cleaved from the transporter. We found evidence for less glycosylation of both EAAT1 and EAAT2 in schizophrenia. We did not detect N-linked glycosylation of EAAT3 in either schizophrenia or the comparison subjects in these regions. Our data suggest an abnormality of posttranslational modification of glutamate transporters in schizophrenia that suggests a decreased capacity for glutamate reuptake.
PMCID: PMC2822023  PMID: 19716271
GLAST; GLT-1; EAAC1; deglycosylation; anterior cingulate cortex; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
17.  Volatile anesthetics attenuate oxidative stress-reduced activity of glutamate transporter type 3 
Anesthesia and analgesia  2009;109(5):1506-1510.
Volatile anesthetics enhance the activity of glutamate transporter type 3 (also called excitatory amino acid transporter type 3, EAAT3), the major neuronal EAAT. In addition to glutamate, EAAT3 can also uptake L-cysteine, the rate-limiting substrate for the synthesis of glutathione. Our previous study showed that oxidative stress inhibited glutamate-induced EAAT3 activity. We determined whether oxidative stress would reduce L-cysteine-induced EAAT3 activity and whether this reduction would be attenuated by volatile anesthetics.
Rat EAAT3 was expressed in Xenopus oocytes. L-glutamate- and L-cysteine-induced membrane currents were recorded using the two-electrode voltage clamp technique. The peak current was quantified to reflect the amount of transported substrates because transport of substrates via EAATs is electrogenic.
Exposure of oocytes to 5 mM tert-butyl hydroperoxide, an organic oxidant, for 10 min reduced the Vmax, but did not affect the Km, of EAAT3 for L-cysteine. The volatile anesthetics isoflurane, sevoflurane and desflurane at concentrations from 1 to 3% attenuated the tert-butyl hydroperoxide-reduced EAAT3 activity for L-glutamate and L-cysteine.
Our results suggest that volatile anesthetics preserve EAAT3 function to transport L-glutamate and L-cysteine under oxidative stress, which may be a mechanism for the neuroprotective effects of volatile anesthetics.
PMCID: PMC2773695  PMID: 19843789
18.  A β-Lactam Antibiotic Dampens Excitotoxic Inflammatory CNS Damage in a Mouse Model of Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3149.
In multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), impairment of glial “Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters” (EAATs) together with an excess glutamate-release by invading immune cells causes excitotoxic damage of the central nervous system (CNS). In order to identify pathways to dampen excitotoxic inflammatory CNS damage, we assessed the effects of a β-lactam antibiotic, ceftriaxone, reported to enhance expression of glial EAAT2, in “Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein” (MOG)-induced EAE. Ceftriaxone profoundly ameliorated the clinical course of murine MOG-induced EAE both under preventive and therapeutic regimens. However, ceftriaxone had impact neither on EAAT2 protein expression levels in several brain areas, nor on the radioactive glutamate uptake capacity in a mixed primary glial cell-culture and the glutamate-induced uptake currents in a mammalian cell line mediated by EAAT2. Moreover, the clinical effect of ceftriaxone was preserved in the presence of the EAAT2-specific transport inhibitor, dihydrokainate, while dihydrokainate alone caused an aggravated EAE course. This demonstrates the need for sufficient glial glutamate uptake upon an excitotoxic autoimmune inflammatory challenge of the CNS and a molecular target of ceftriaxone other than the glutamate transporter. Ceftriaxone treatment indirectly hampered T cell proliferation and proinflammatory INFγ and IL17 secretion through modulation of myelin-antigen presentation by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) e.g. dendritic cells (DCs) and reduced T cell migration into the CNS in vivo. Taken together, we demonstrate, that a β-lactam antibiotic attenuates disease course and severity in a model of autoimmune CNS inflammation. The mechanisms are reduction of T cell activation by modulation of cellular antigen-presentation and impairment of antigen-specific T cell migration into the CNS rather than or modulation of central glutamate homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2522272  PMID: 18773080
19.  Mislocalization of the exitatory amino-acid transporters (EAATs) in human astrocytoma and non-astrocytoma cancer cells: effect of the cell confluence 
Astrocytomas are cancers of the brain in which high levels of extracellular glutamate plays a critical role in tumor growth and resistance to conventional treatments. This is due for part to a decrease in the activity of the glutamate transporters, i.e. the Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters or EAATs, in relation to their nuclear mislocalization in astrocytoma cells. Although non-astrocytoma cancers express EAATs, the localization of EAATs and the handling of L-glutamate in that case have not been investigated.
We looked at the cellular localization and activity of EAATs in human astrocytoma and non-astrocytoma cancer cells by immunofluorescence, cell fractionation and L-glutamate transport studies.
We demonstrated that the nuclear mislocalization of EAATs was not restricted to astrocytoma and happened in all sub-confluent non-astrocytoma cancer cells we tested. In addition, we found that cell-cell contact caused the relocalization of EAATs from the nuclei to the plasma membrane in all human cancer cells tested, except astrocytoma.
Taken together, our results demonstrated that the mislocalization of the EAATs and its associated altered handling of glutamate are not restricted to astrocytomas but were also found in human non-astrocytoma cancers. Importantly, we found that a cell contact-dependent signal caused the relocalization of EAATs at the plasma membrane at least in human non-astrocytoma cancer cells, resulting in the correction of the altered transport of glutamate in such cancer cells but not in astrocytoma.
PMCID: PMC3293732  PMID: 22296701
Astrocytoma; Cancer; GLAST; GLT-1; Glutamate; EAAT; Mislocalization; STTG-1
20.  Extracellular microvesicles from astrocytes contain functional glutamate transporters: regulation by protein kinase C and cell activation 
Glutamate transport through astrocytic excitatory amino-acid transporters (EAAT)-1 and EAAT-2 is paramount for neural homeostasis. EAAT-1 has been reported in secreted extracellular microvesicles (eMV, such as exosomes) and because the protein kinase C (PKC) family controls the sub-cellular distribution of EAATs, we have explored whether PKCs drive EAATs into eMV. Using rat primary astrocytes, confocal immunofluorescence and ultracentrifugation on sucrose gradient we here report that PKC activation by phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) reorganizes EAAT-1 distribution and reduces functional [3H]-aspartate reuptake. Western-blots show that EAAT-1 is present in eMV from astrocyte conditioned medium, together with NaK ATPase and glutamine synthetase all being further increased after PMA treatment. However, nanoparticle tracking analysis reveals that PKC activation did not change particle concentration. Functional analysis indicates that eMV have the capacity to reuptake [3H]-aspartate. In vivo, we demonstrate that spinal astrocytic reaction induced by peripheral nerve lesion (spared nerve injury, SNI) is associated with a phosphorylation of PKC δ together with a shift of EAAT distribution ipsilaterally. Ex vivo, spinal explants from SNI rats release eMV with an increased content of NaK ATPase, EAAT-1 and EAAT-2. These data indicate PKC and cell activation as important regulators of EAAT-1 incorporation in eMV, and raise the possibility that microvesicular EAAT-1 may exert extracellular functions. Beyond a putative role in neuropathic pain, this phenomenon may be important for understanding neural homeostasis and a wide range of neurological diseases associated with astrocytic reaction as well as non-neurological diseases linked to eMV release.
PMCID: PMC3857901  PMID: 24368897
glutamate transporters; extracellular microvesicles; astrocyte; glia; protein kinase C; nerve injury; spinal cord
21.  A Role for Glutamate Transporters in the Regulation of Insulin Secretion 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22960.
In the brain, glutamate is an extracellular transmitter that mediates cell-to-cell communication. Prior to synaptic release it is pumped into vesicles by vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs). To inactivate glutamate receptor responses after release, glutamate is taken up into glial cells or neurons by excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs). In the pancreatic islets of Langerhans, glutamate is proposed to act as an intracellular messenger, regulating insulin secretion from β-cells, but the mechanisms involved are unknown. By immunogold cytochemistry we show that insulin containing secretory granules express VGLUT3. Despite the fact that they have a VGLUT, the levels of glutamate in these granules are low, indicating the presence of a protein that can transport glutamate out of the granules. Surprisingly, in β-cells the glutamate transporter EAAT2 is located, not in the plasma membrane as it is in brain cells, but exclusively in insulin-containing secretory granules, together with VGLUT3. In EAAT2 knock out mice, the content of glutamate in secretory granules is higher than in wild type mice. These data imply a glutamate cycle in which glutamate is carried into the granules by VGLUT3 and carried out by EAAT2. Perturbing this cycle by knocking down EAAT2 expression with a small interfering RNA, or by over-expressing EAAT2 or a VGLUT in insulin granules, significantly reduced the rate of granule exocytosis. Simulations of granule energetics suggest that VGLUT3 and EAAT2 may regulate the pH and membrane potential of the granules and thereby regulate insulin secretion. These data suggest that insulin secretion from β-cells is modulated by the flux of glutamate through the secretory granules.
PMCID: PMC3154915  PMID: 21853059
22.  Physical and Functional Interaction of NCX1 and EAAC1 Transporters Leading to Glutamate-Enhanced ATP Production in Brain Mitochondria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34015.
Glutamate is emerging as a major factor stimulating energy production in CNS. Brain mitochondria can utilize this neurotransmitter as respiratory substrate and specific transporters are required to mediate the glutamate entry into the mitochondrial matrix. Glutamate transporters of the Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters (EAATs) family have been previously well characterized on the cell surface of neuronal and glial cells, representing the primary players for glutamate uptake in mammalian brain. Here, by using western blot, confocal microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy, we report for the first time that the Excitatory Amino Acid Carrier 1 (EAAC1), an EAATs member, is expressed in neuronal and glial mitochondria where it participates in glutamate-stimulated ATP production, evaluated by a luciferase-luciferin system. Mitochondrial metabolic response is counteracted when different EAATs pharmacological blockers or selective EAAC1 antisense oligonucleotides were used. Since EAATs are Na+-dependent proteins, this raised the possibility that other transporters regulating ion gradients across mitochondrial membrane were required for glutamate response. We describe colocalization, mutual activity dependency, physical interaction between EAAC1 and the sodium/calcium exchanger 1 (NCX1) both in neuronal and glial mitochondria, and that NCX1 is an essential modulator of this glutamate transporter. Only NCX1 activity is crucial for such glutamate-stimulated ATP synthesis, as demonstrated by pharmacological blockade and selective knock-down with antisense oligonucleotides. The EAAC1/NCX1-dependent mitochondrial response to glutamate may be a general and alternative mechanism whereby this neurotransmitter sustains ATP production, since we have documented such metabolic response also in mitochondria isolated from heart. The data reported here disclose a new physiological role for mitochondrial NCX1 as the key player in glutamate-induced energy production.
PMCID: PMC3316532  PMID: 22479505
23.  Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 5 is widely expressed in peripheral tissues 
It is routinely stated in the literature that Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 5 (EAAT5) is a retina-specific glutamate transporter. EAAT5 is expressed by retinal photoreceptors and bipolar cells, where it serves as a slow transporter and as an inhibitory glutamate receptor, the latter role is due to the gating of a large chloride conductance. The dogma of an exclusively retinal distribution has arisen because Northern blot analyses have previously shown only modest hybridisation in non-retinal tissues. Others have re-interpreted this as indicating that EAAT5 was only present in retinal tissues. However, this view appears to be erroneous; recent evidence demonstrating abundant expression of EAAT5 in rat testis prompted us to re-examine this dogma. A new antibody was developed to an intracellular loop region of rat EAAT5. This new tool, in concert with RT-PCR and sequencing, demonstrated that EAAT5 is widely distributed at the mRNA and protein levels in many non-nervous tissues including liver, kidney, intestine, heart, lung, and skeletal muscle. We conclude that EAAT5 is a widely distributed protein. Whether it functions in all locations as a glutamate transporter, or mainly as a glutamate-gated chloride conductance, remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3683608  PMID: 23549460
EAAT5; glutamate; transporter; heart; lung; kidney.
24.  Neuronal glutamate transporters regulate glial excitatory transmission 
In the central nervous system, excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) localized to neurons and glia terminate the actions of synaptically released glutamate. Whereas glial transporters are primarily responsible for maintaining low ambient levels of extracellular glutamate, neuronal transporters have additional roles in shaping excitatory synaptic transmission. Here we test the hypothesis that the expression level of the Purkinje cell (PC)-specific transporter, EAAT4, near parallel fiber (PF) release sites controls the extrasynaptic glutamate concentration transient following synaptic stimulation. Expression of EAAT4 follows a parasagittal banding pattern that allows us to compare regions of high and low EAAT4-expressing PCs. Using EAAT4 promoter driven eGFP reporter mice together with pharmacology and genetic deletion, we show that the level of neuronal transporter expression influences extrasynaptic transmission from PFs to adjacent Bergmann glia (BG). Surprisingly, a twofold difference in functional EAAT4 levels is sufficient to alter signaling to BG although EAAT4 may only be responsible for removing a fraction of released glutamate. These results demonstrate that physiological regulation of neuronal transporter expression can alter extrasynaptic neuro-glial signaling.
PMCID: PMC3532047  PMID: 22302796
synaptic transmission; Purkinje cell; parallel fiber; EAAT4
25.  Expression of multiple glutamate transporter splice variants in the rodent testis 
Asian Journal of Andrology  2010;13(2):254-265.
Glutamate is a regulated molecule in the mammalian testis. Extracellular regulation of glutamate in the body is determined largely by the expression of plasmalemmal glutamate transporters. We have examined by PCR, western blotting and immunocytochemistry the expression of a panel of sodium-dependent plasmalemmal glutamate transporters in the rat testis. Proteins examined included: glutamate aspartate transporter (GLAST), glutamate transporter 1 (GLT1), excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1), excitatory amino acid transporter 4 (EAAT4) and EAAT5. We demonstrate that many of the glutamate transporters in the testis are alternately spliced. GLAST is present as exon-3- and exon-9-skipping forms. GLT1 was similarly present as the alternately spliced forms GLT1b and GLT1c, whereas the abundant brain form (GLT1a) was detectable only at the mRNA level. EAAT5 was also strongly expressed, whereas EAAC1 and EAAT4 were absent. These patterns of expression were compared with the patterns of endogenous glutamate localization and with patterns of 𝒹-aspartate accumulation, as assessed by immunocytochemistry. The presence of multiple glutamate transporters in the testis, including unusually spliced forms, suggests that glutamate homeostasis may be critical in this organ. The apparent presence of many of these transporters in the testis and sperm may indicate a need for glutamate transport by such cells.
PMCID: PMC3739219  PMID: 21170079
excitatory amino acid transporter; glutamate aspartate transporter; glutamate transporter 1; sperm; splice variant; testis; transporter

Results 1-25 (593945)