Histidines in potential substrate recognition sites affect thyroid hormone transport by monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8)

Endocrinology. 2013 Jul;154(7):2553-61. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-2197. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Mutations in monocarboxylate transporter 8 (MCT8; SLC16A2) cause the Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome, a severe X-linked psychomotor retardation syndrome. MCT8 belongs to the major facilitator superfamily of 12 transmembrane-spanning proteins and transports thyroid hormones across the blood-brain barrier and into neurons. How MCT8 distinguishes thyroid hormone substrates from structurally closely related compounds is not known. The goal of this study was to identify critical amino acids along the transport channel cavity, which participate in thyroid hormone recognition. The fact that T3 is bound between a His-Arg clamp in the crystal structure of the T3 receptor/T3 complex prompted us to investigate whether such a motif might potentially be relevant for T3 recognition in MCT8. We therefore replaced candidate histidines and arginines by site-directed mutagenesis and performed activity assays in MDCK-1 cells and Xenopus oocytes. Histidines were replaced by alanine, phenylalanine, and glutamine to probe for molecular properties like aromatic ring structure and H-bonding properties. It was found that some mutations in His192 and His415 significantly changed substrate transport kinetics. Arg301 at the intracellular end of the substrate channel is at an ideal distance to His415 to participate in a His-Arg clamp and mutation to alanine-abrogated hormone transport. Molecular modeling demonstrates a perfect fit of T3 poised into the substrate channel between His415 and Arg301 and observing the same geometry as in the T3 receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / genetics
  • Biological Transport / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Histidine / chemistry*
  • Histidine / genetics
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / chemistry
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / genetics
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Histidine