The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 213, Issue 2, pp 67–77 | Cite as

Structure and Function of Cationic Amino Acid Transporters (CATs)

  • E.I. ClossEmail author
  • J.-P. Boissel
  • A. Habermeier
  • A. Rotmann


The CAT proteins (CAT for cationic amino acid transporter) are amongst the first mammalian amino acid transporters identified on the molecular level and seem to be the major entry path for cationic amino acids in most cells. However, CAT proteins mediate also efflux of their substrates and thus may also deplete cells from cationic amino acids under certain circumstances. The CAT proteins form a subfamily of the solute carrier family 7 (SLC7) that consists of four confirmed transport proteins for cationic amino acids: CAT-1 (SLC7A1), CAT-2A (SLC7A2A), CAT-2B (SLC7A2B), and CAT-3 (SLC7A3). SLC7A4 and SLC7A14 are two related proteins with yet unknown function. One focus of this review lies on structural and functional differences between the different CAT isoforms. The expression of the CAT proteins is highly regulated on the level of transcription, mRNA stability, translation and subcellular localization. Recent advances toward a better understanding of these mechanisms provide a second focus of this review.


Amino acid starvation Amino acid responsive element Cationic amino acid transporter IRES micro RNA Nitric oxide Paraspeckles SLC7 System y+ 



cationic amino acid transporter, prefix h, r, m: human, rat and mouse, respectively


heteromeric amino acid transporter


dendritic cell


human embryonic kidney cells


internal ribosomal entry sequence


nitric oxide synthase, prefix e, and i: endothelial and inducible isoform, respectively


porcine aortic endothelial cells


protein kinase C


solute carrier family


transmembrane domain



The work in the authors laboratory is supported by Grants Cl 100/4-1 and the Collaborative Research Center SFB 553 (Project B4) from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • E.I. Closs
    • 1
    Email author
  • J.-P. Boissel
    • 1
  • A. Habermeier
    • 1
  • A. Rotmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany

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