Analysis of naturally occurring mutations in the human uptake transporter NaCT important for bone and brain development and energy metabolism

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 27;8(1):11330. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29547-8.


The human uptake transporter NaCT is important for human brain development, brain function and energy metabolism and mediates the uptake of citrate and other intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid cycle from blood into neurons and hepatocytes. Mutations in the SLC13A5 gene encoding NaCT are associated with epileptic encephalopathy. To gain more insights into the transport mechanisms we analyzed the functional consequences of mutations in the SLC13A5 gene on NaCT-mediated transport function. Using HEK293 cells expressing wild-type and eight mutated NaCT proteins, we investigated the mRNA and protein amount as well as the protein localization of all NaCT variants. Furthermore, the impact on NaCT-mediated citrate uptake was measured. In addition, a structural model of the transport pore was generated to rationalize the consequences of the mutations on a structural basis. We demonstrated that all proteins were synthesized with an identical molecular weight as the wild-type transporter but several mutations (NaCTp.G219R, -p.G219E, -p.T227M, -p.L420P and -p.L488P) lead to a complete loss of NaCT-mediated citrate transport. This loss of transport activity can be explained on the basis of the developed structural model. This model may help in the further elucidation of the transport mechanism of this important uptake transporter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport / genetics*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Citric Acid / metabolism
  • Citric Acid Cycle / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis / genetics
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Symporters / chemistry*
  • Symporters / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • SLC13A5 protein, human
  • Symporters
  • Citric Acid