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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Identification of the mitochondrial targeting signal of the human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hENT1): implications for interspecies differences in mitochondrial toxicity of fialuridine.

We have previously shown that the human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hENT1) is expressed and functional in the mitochondrial membrane and that this expression enhances the mitochondrial toxicity of the nucleoside drug, fialuridine (FIAU) (Lai, Y., Tse, C. M., and Unadkat, J. D. (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 4490-4497). Here we report on identification of the mitochondrial targeting sequence of hENT1. Using confocal microscopy and different truncated and point mutants of hENT1-YFP (yellow fluorescent protein) expressed in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, we identified amino acid residues Pro(71),Glu(72), and Asn(74) (the PEXN motif) of hENT1 as important in mitochondrial targeting of hENT1. Identification of this mitochondrial targeting sequence provides a possible explanation for the dramatic difference in mitochondrial toxicity of FIAU between humans and rodents. Although the mouse ENT1 (mENT1), expressed in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, can transport FIAU, confocal microscopy showed that mENT1-GFP (green fluorescent protein) was not localized to the mitochondria. Consistent with this observation, mitochondria isolated from mouse livers did not transport FIAU. Sequence alignment of hENT1, mENT1, and rat ENT1 (rENT1) showed that the PEXN motif of hENT1 was substituted with a PAXS motif in both mENT1 and rENT1. Substitution of PAXS in mENT1 with PEXN (to create mENT1-PEXN-GFP) and of PEXN in hENT1 with PAXS (to create hENT1-PAXS-YFP) resulted in partial mitochondrial localization of mENT1-PEXN-GFP and loss of mitochondrial localization of hENT1-PAXS-YFP. This is the first time that the mitochondrial targeting signal of hENT1 has been identified. Our data suggest that the lack of mitochondrial toxicity of FIAU in mice is due to the lack of mENT1 targeting to and expression in the mitochondria.[1]


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