Insights into the Structure, Function, and Ligand Discovery of the Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter 1, LAT1

Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Apr 24;19(5):1278. doi: 10.3390/ijms19051278.


The large neutral amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1, or SLC7A5) is a sodium- and pH-independent transporter, which supplies essential amino acids (e.g., leucine, phenylalanine) to cells. It plays an important role at the Blood⁻Brain Barrier (BBB) where it facilitates the transport of thyroid hormones, pharmaceuticals (e.g., l-DOPA, gabapentin), and metabolites into the brain. Moreover, its expression is highly upregulated in various types of human cancer that are characterized by an intense demand for amino acids for growth and proliferation. Therefore, LAT1 is believed to be an important drug target for cancer treatment. With the crystallization of the arginine/agmatine antiporter (AdiC) from Escherichia Coli, numerous homology models of LAT1 have been built to elucidate the substrate binding site, ligand⁻transporter interaction, and structure⁻function relationship. The use of these models in combination with molecular docking and experimental testing has identified novel chemotypes of ligands of LAT1. Here, we highlight the structure, function, transport mechanism, and homology modeling of LAT1. Additionally, results from structure⁻function studies performed on LAT1 are addressed, which have enhanced our knowledge of the mechanism of substrate binding and translocation. This is followed by a discussion on ligand- and structure-based approaches, with an emphasis on elucidating the molecular basis of LAT1 inhibition. Finally, we provide an exhaustive summary of different LAT1 inhibitors that have been identified so far, including the recently discovered irreversible covalent inhibitors.

Keywords: AdiC; LAT1; amino acid transporter; anticancer; covalent inhibitor; melphalan.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Humans
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1 / chemistry*
  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1 / metabolism
  • Ligands*
  • Molecular Docking Simulation*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Prodrugs
  • Protein Binding
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Large Neutral Amino Acid-Transporter 1
  • Ligands
  • Prodrugs