Cystinuria is a genetic disorder characterized by overexcretion of dibasic amino acids and cystine, causing recurrent kidney stones and kidney failure. Mutations of the regulatory glycoprotein rBAT and the amino acid transporter b0,+AT, which constitute system b0,+, are linked to type I and non-type I cystinuria respectively and they exhibit distinct phenotypes due to protein trafficking defects or catalytic inactivation. Here, using electron cryo-microscopy and biochemistry, we discover that Ca2+ mediates higher-order assembly of system b0,+. Ca2+ stabilizes the interface between two rBAT molecules, leading to super-dimerization of b0,+AT-rBAT, which in turn facilitates N-glycan maturation and protein trafficking. A cystinuria mutant T216M and mutations of the Ca2+ site of rBAT cause the loss of higher-order assemblies, resulting in protein trapping at the ER and the loss of function. These results provide the molecular basis of system b0,+ biogenesis and type I cystinuria and serve as a guide to develop new therapeutic strategies against it. More broadly, our findings reveal an unprecedented link between transporter oligomeric assembly and protein-trafficking diseases.
© 2022. The Author(s).