Cryo-EM structure of the human Asc-1 transporter complex

Nat Commun. 2024 Apr 8;15(1):3036. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-47468-1.


The Alanine-Serine-Cysteine transporter 1 (Asc-1 or SLC7A10) forms a crucial heterodimeric transporter complex with 4F2hc (SLC3A2) through a covalent disulfide bridge. This complex enables the sodium-independent transport of small neutral amino acids, including L-Alanine (L-Ala), Glycine (Gly), and D-Serine (D-Ser), within the central nervous system (CNS). D-Ser and Gly are two key endogenous glutamate co-agonists that activate N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors by binding to the allosteric site. Mice deficient in Asc-1 display severe symptoms such as tremors, ataxia, and seizures, leading to early postnatal death. Despite its physiological importance, the functional mechanism of the Asc-1-4F2hc complex has remained elusive. Here, we present cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of the human Asc-1-4F2hc complex in its apo state, D-Ser bound state, and L-Ala bound state, resolved at 3.6 Å, 3.5 Å, and 3.4 Å, respectively. Through detailed structural analysis and transport assays, we uncover a comprehensive alternating access mechanism that underlies conformational changes in the complex. In summary, our findings reveal the architecture of the Asc-1 and 4F2hc complex and provide valuable insights into substrate recognition and the functional cycle of this essential transporter complex.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Cysteine
  • Glycine
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins* / genetics
  • Mice
  • Serine* / metabolism


  • Serine
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Glycine
  • Cysteine