The family of sodium-dependent glutamate transporters: a focus on the GLT-1/EAAT2 subtype

Neurochem Int. 1998 Dec;33(6):479-91. doi: 10.1016/s0197-0186(98)00055-2.


The acidic amino acids, glutamate and aspartate, are the predominant excitatory neurotransmitters in the mammalian CNS. Under many pathologic conditions, these excitatory amino acids (EAAs) accumulate in the extracellular fluid in CNS and the resultant excessive activation of EAA receptors contributes to brain injury through a process known as 'excitotoxicity'. Unlike many other neurotransmitters, there is no evidence for extracellular metabolism of EAAs, rather, they are cleared by Na+-dependent transport mechanisms. Therefore, this transport process is important for ensuring crisp synaptic signaling as well as limiting the excitotoxic potential of EAAs. With the cloning of five distinct EAA transporters, a variety of tools were developed to characterize individual transporter subtypes, including specific antibodies, expression systems, and probes to delete/knock-down expression of each subtype. These tools are beginning to provide fundamental information that has the potential to impact our understanding of EAA physiology and pathophysiology. For example, biophysical studies of the cloned transporters have led to the observation that some subtypes function as ligand-gated ion channels as well as transporters. With these reagents, it has also been possible to explore the relative contributions of each transporter to the clearance of extracellular EAAs and to begin to examine the regulation of specific transporter subtypes. In this review, an overview of the properties of the transporter subtypes will be presented. The evidence which suggests that the transporter, GLT1/EAAT2, may be sufficient to explain a large percentage of forebrain transport will be critically reviewed. Finally, the studies of regulation of GLT-1 in vitro and in vivo will be described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / metabolism*
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Glutamates
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Sodium