The flexible cytoplasmic loop 3 contributes to the substrate affinity of human monocarboxylate transporters
Human monocarboxylate transporters (hMCTs/SLC16As) mediate the transport of small molecular weight monocarboxylates. Among hMCTs, hMCT1 exhibits high-affinity L-lactate transport and broad substrate recognition, whereas hMCT4 shows highly specific substrate recognition and low-affinity L-lactate transport, indicating that hMCT1 and hMCT4 have different roles in the body. However, the molecular mechanism of transporter-mediated substrate transport remains unknown. The aim of this study is to identify the domain, which determines the substrate selectivity and affinity of hMCT1 and hMCT4. We constructed a chimera, hMCT4/1, in which the cytoplasmic loop 3 (TM6/7loop) region of hMCT4 was replaced by the corresponding region of hMCT1. Xenopuslaevis oocyte heterologous expression system was used to characterize functional features of the chimera. We have demonstrated that the substrate affinity of hMCT1 and hMCT4 depends on the TM6/7loop. Non-conserved His237 residue in the TM6/7loop functions as a regulatory moiety of the substrate affinity. In contrast, the substrate selectivity of the transporters did not depend on the TM6/7loop, suggesting that the domain is not directly involved in substrate recognition. Our study provides important insights into the structures and functions of hMCT1 and hMCT4 transporters. These findings contribute to the development of novel hMCT1 and/or hMCT4 inhibitors as anticancer agents.