A novel sorting motif in the glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid transporter 3 directs its targeting in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells and hippocampal neurons

Chialin Cheng, Greta Glover, Gary Banker, Susan G. Amara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations


The glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (EAAT3) is polarized to the apical surface in epithelial cells and localized to the dendritic compartment in hippocampal neurons, where it is clustered adjacent to postsynaptic sites. In this study, we analyzed the sequences in EAAT3 that are responsible for its polarized localization in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells and neurons. Confocal microscopy and cell surface biotinylation assays demonstrated that deletion of the EAAT3 C terminus or replacement of the C terminus of EAAT3 with the analogous region in EAAT1 eliminated apical localization in MDCK cells. The C terminus of EAAT3 was sufficient to redirect the basolateral-preferring EAAT1 and the nonpolarized EAAT2 to the apical surface. Using alanine substitution mutants, we identified a short peptide motif in the cytoplasmic C-terminal region of EAAT3 that directs its apical localization in MDCK cells. Mutation of this sequence also impairs dendritic targeting of EAAT3 in hippocampal neurons but does not interfere with the clustering of EAAT3 on dendritic spines and filopodia. These data provide the first evidence that an identical cytoplasmic motif can direct apical targeting in epithelia and somatodendritic targeting in neurons. Moreover, our results demonstrate that the two fundamental features of the localization of EAAT3 in neurons, its restriction to the somatodendritic domain and its clustering near postsynaptic sites, are mediated by distinct molecular mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10643-10652
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2002



  • Apical sorting signal
  • Dendritic sorting signal
  • EAAT3
  • Excitatory amino acid carrier
  • Glutamate transporter
  • Polarized trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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