Glucose transport proteins (GLUTs) catalyze equilibrative, cellular sugar transport, are essential for carbohydrate homeostasis in humans, contain 12 membrane-spanning alpha helices (TMs) which form a translocation pathway (amphipathic TMs 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11) stabilized by a scaffold (hydrophobic TMs 3, 6, 9 and 12) and adopt 3 conformational states: the inward, the occluded and the outward orientations. Gaps in our understanding of the GLUTs are: 1) How substrates bind;2) How substrates are translocated;3) How GLUTs oligomerize. We address these gaps and ask how each process is altered in a human disease - GLUT1 deficiency syndrome (GLUT1-DS).
Specific Aim 1 tests the hypothesis that substrates bind in the GLUT translocation pathway. GLUT1 transports glucose but not fructose while GLUT5 transports fructose not glucose. Mutagenesis studies suggest that TMs 2, 7 and 11 contribute to GLUT5 fructose binding and TMs 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 to GLUT1 glucose binding. Using homology scanning mutagenesis, we ask if substitution of specific GLUT5 translocation TMs into GLUT1 converts GLUT1 from a glucose to a fructose transporter and vice versa and we ask which residues are critical for binding. Mass spectrometry of purified human GLUT1 will reveal which GLUT1 residues are modified by photo-affinity substrates/antagonists and which are substrate- protected against hydrogen-deuterium exchange (H/DX)? We then ask if critical substrate binding residues are altered in GLUT1-DS.
Specific Aim 2 tests the hypothesis that transport involves translocation pathway conformational changes controlled by scaffold TM6 - pathway TM1 interactions. GLUT1 hydrogens (80%) undergo conformation-sensitive exchange with solvent tritium or deuterium but which amino acids exchange is unknown. We will identify them by H/DX-mass spectrometry of purified human GLUT1 trapped in inward, occluded and outward orientations. GLUT1-GLUT4 homology scanning mutagenesis shows that TM6 controls the rate of conformational change between inward and outward GLUT1 and GLUT4 orientations by interacting with TM1. We ask if this is a hallmark of all GLUTs, we investigate which TM6 residues interact with TM1 by tryptophan scanning and dicysteine cross-linking mutagenesis and ask if these residues are altered in GLUT1-DS.
Specific Aim 3 tests the hypothesis that GLUT dimerization and tetramerization determine transport efficiency and are mediated by specific translocation and scaffold TMs. GLUT1 forms homo- dimers and homo-tetramers whereas GLUTs 2-4 form homo-dimers. The GLUTs do not hetero-oligomerize. Substituting GLUT1 scaffold TM9 into GLUT3 allows GLUT3 to tetramerize and to form heterocomplexes with GLUT1. GLUT3 TM9 causes GLUT1 to dissociate into dimers. Pathway TMs 5, 8, 2 and 11 may be responsible for isoform specific dimerization. We propose to test this hypothesis directly and outline experiments to investigate how GLUT activity is affected by oligomeric state and whether mutations that cause GLUT1-DS also affect GLUT1 quaternary structure and/or the effects of quaternary structure on function.

Public Health Relevance

Glycopenia (tissue glucose shortage) can have genetic, endocrine and pharmacologic causes, results in seizures, neurologic deficits, coma and, if uncorrected, impairs development. This project investigates the GLUT family of human glucose transport proteins which is responsible for body glucose distribution following its absorption from the gut and kidneys. We ask how these transporters function in human health and disease by using a combination of biochemical, genetic and computational approaches. What we learn will lead to interventions for clinical glycopenia, the development of specific inhibitors of glucose transport by tumors, screening of HIV protease inhibitors that avoid insulin resistance and will also enhance our understanding of the much wider family of transport proteins that distribute substances other than glucose.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section (CADO)
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Sechi, Salvatore
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Ojelabi, Ogooluwa A; Lloyd, Kenneth P; De Zutter, Julie K et al. (2018) Red wine and green tea flavonoids are cis-allosteric activators and competitive inhibitors of glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1)-mediated sugar uptake. J Biol Chem 293:19823-19834
Lloyd, Kenneth P; Ojelabi, Ogooluwa A; Simon, Andrew H et al. (2018) Kinetic Basis of Cis- and Trans-Allostery in GLUT1-Mediated Sugar Transport. J Membr Biol 251:131-152
Lloyd, Kenneth P; Ojelabi, Ogooluwa A; De Zutter, Julie K et al. (2017) Reconciling contradictory findings: Glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) functions as an oligomer of allosteric, alternating access transporters. J Biol Chem 292:21035-21046
Ojelabi, Ogooluwa A; Lloyd, Kenneth P; Simon, Andrew H et al. (2016) WZB117 (2-Fluoro-6-(m-hydroxybenzoyloxy) Phenyl m-Hydroxybenzoate) Inhibits GLUT1-mediated Sugar Transport by Binding Reversibly at the Exofacial Sugar Binding Site. J Biol Chem 291:26762-26772
Sage, Jay M; Cura, Anthony J; Lloyd, Kenneth P et al. (2015) Caffeine inhibits glucose transport by binding at the GLUT1 nucleotide-binding site. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 308:C827-34
Simpson, Ian A; Ponnuru, Padmavathi; Klinger, Marianne E et al. (2015) A novel model for brain iron uptake: introducing the concept of regulation. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 35:48-57
Sage, Jay M; Carruthers, Anthony (2014) Human erythrocytes transport dehydroascorbic acid and sugars using the same transporter complex. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 306:C910-7
De Zutter, Julie K; Levine, Kara B; Deng, Di et al. (2013) Sequence determinants of GLUT1 oligomerization: analysis by homology-scanning mutagenesis. J Biol Chem 288:20734-44
Vollers, Sabrina S; Carruthers, Anthony (2012) Sequence determinants of GLUT1-mediated accelerated-exchange transport: analysis by homology-scanning mutagenesis. J Biol Chem 287:42533-44
Cura, Anthony J; Carruthers, Anthony (2012) Role of monosaccharide transport proteins in carbohydrate assimilation, distribution, metabolism, and homeostasis. Compr Physiol 2:863-914

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