ACETYLATION OF L-LEUCINE SWITCHES ITS CARRIER FROM THE L-AMINO ACID TRANSPORTER (LAT) TO ORGANIC ANION TRANSPORTERS (OAT)

N-acetylation removes a charge from the nitrogen at physiological pH and N-acetyl-L-leucine is an anion that is then a substrate for the organic anion transporters. We examined N-acetyl-L-leucine uptake in human embryonic kidney cells overexpression candidate organic anion transporters (OAT) and pharmacological inhibitors. We found that N-acetyl-L-leucine is a translocated substrate for OAT1 and OAT3 with low affinity (Km ~10 mM). In contrast, L-leucine is known to be transported by the L-type Amino Acid Transporter (LAT) with high affinity (Km ~0.2 mM) and low capacity. The clinical consequence is that L-leucine uptake becomes saturated at 50-fold lower concentration than N-acetyl-L-leucine. These results demonstrate a mechanism of action that explains why N-acetyl-L-leucine is effective as a drug and L-leucine itself is not.

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