In the course of our study on fungal purine transporters, a number of new 3-deazapurine analogues have been rationally designed, based on the interaction of purine substrates with the Aspergillus nidulans FcyB carrier, and synthesized following an effective synthetic procedure. Certain derivatives have been found to specifically inhibit FcyB-mediated [(3)H]-adenine uptake. Molecular simulations have been performed, suggesting that all active compounds interact with FcyB through the formation of hydrogen bonds with Asn163, while the insertion of hydrophobic fragments at position 9 and N6 of 3-deazaadenine enhanced the inhibition.
Transporters are transmembrane proteins mediating the selective uptake or efflux of solutes, metabolites, drugs, or ions across cellular membranes. Despite their immense biological importance in cell nutrition, communication, signaling, and homeostasis, their study remains technically difficult mostly due to their lipid-embedded nature. The study of eukaryotic transporters presents additional complexity due to multiple subcellular control mechanisms that operate to ensure proper membrane traffic, membrane localization, and turnover. Model fungi present unique genetic tools to study eukaryotic transporter function. This review highlights how fungal transporter genetics combined with new methodologies for assaying their cellular expression and function as well as recent structural approaches have led to the functional dissection of selected transporter paradigms in Aspergillus nidulans.
The uric acid/xanthine H(+) symporter, UapA, is a high-affinity purine transporter from the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Here we present the crystal structure of a genetically stabilized version of UapA (UapA-G411VΔ1-11) in complex with xanthine. UapA is formed from two domains, a core domain and a gate domain, similar to the previously solved uracil transporter UraA, which belongs to the same family. The structure shows UapA in an inward-facing conformation with xanthine bound to residues in the core domain. Unlike UraA, which was observed to be a monomer, UapA forms a dimer in the crystals with dimer interactions formed exclusively through the gate domain. Analysis of dominant negative mutants is consistent with dimerization playing a key role in transport. We postulate that UapA uses an elevator transport mechanism likely to be shared with other structurally homologous transporters including anion exchangers and prestin.
Transmembrane proteins translocate co-translationally in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane and traffic as vesicular cargoes, via the Golgi, in their final membrane destination. Misfolding in the ER leads to protein degradation basically through the ERAD/proteasome system. Here, we use a mutant version of the purine transporter UapA (ΔR481) to show that specific misfolded versions of plasma membrane cargoes undergo vacuolar turnover prior to localization in the plasma membrane. We show that non-endocytic vacuolar turnover of ΔR481 is dependent on BsdA(Bsd2) , an ER transmembrane adaptor of HulA(Rsp5) ubiquitin ligase. We obtain in vivo evidence that BsdA(Bsd2) interacts with HulA(Rsp5) and ΔR481, primarily in the ER. Importantly, accumulation of ΔR481 in the ER triggers delivery of the selective autophagy marker Atg8 in vacuoles along with ΔR481. Genetic block of autophagy (atg9Δ, rabO(ts) ) reduces, but does not abolish, sorting of ΔR481 in the vacuoles, suggesting that a fraction of the misfolded transporter might be redirected for vacuolar degradation via the Golgi. Our results support that multiple routes along the secretory pathway operate for the detoxification of Aspergillus nidulans cells from misfolded membrane proteins, and that BsdA is key factor for marking specific misfolded cargoes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.