Cellular distribution and kinetic properties of high-affinity glutamate transporters

Brain Res Bull. 1998;45(3):233-8. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(97)00417-6.


L-glutamic acid is a key chemical transmitter of excitatory signals in the nervous system. The termination of glutamatergic transmission occurs via uptake of glutamate by a family of high-affinity glutamate transporters that utilize the Na+/K+ electrochemical gradient as a driving force. The stoichiometry of a single translocation cycle is still debatable, although all proposed models stipulate an inward movement of a net positive charge. This electrogenic mechanism is capable of translocating the neurotransmitter against its several thousand-fold concentration gradient, therefore, keeping the resting glutamate concentration below the treshold levels. The five cloned transporters (GLAST/EAAT1, GLT1/EAAT2, EAAC1/EAAT3, EAAT4, and EAAT5) exhibit distinct distribution patterns and kinetic properties in different brain regions, cell types, and reconstitution systems. Moreover, distinct pharmacological profiles were revealed among the species homologues. GLAST and GLT1, the predominant glutamate transporters in the brain, are coexpressed in astroglial processes, whereas neuronal carriers are mainly located in the dendrosomatic compartment. Some of these carrier proteins may possess signal transducing properties, distinct from their transporter activity. Some experimental conditions and several naturally occurring and synthetic compounds are capable of regulating the expression of glutamate transporters. However, selective pharmacological tools interfering with the individual glutamate carriers have yet to be developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG