Recent advances have made possible the isolation of the genes and their cDNAs encoding Na(+)-independent amino acid transporters. Two classes of amino acid 'uniporters' have been isolated. One class contains the mCAT (murine cationic amino acid transporter) gene family that encodes proteins predicted to span the membrane 12-14 times and exhibits structural properties similar to the GLUT (glucose transporter) family and to other well-known transporters. The other class consists of two known genes, rBAT (related to B system amino acid transporters) and 4F2hc, that share amino acid sequence similarity with alpha-amylases and alpha-glucosidases. They are type II glycoproteins predicted to span the membrane only once, yet they mediate the Na(+)-independent transport of cationic and zwitterionic amino acids in Xenopus oocytes. Mutations in the human rBAT gene have been identified by Palacín and his co-workers in several families suffering from a heritable form of cystinuria. This important finding clearly establishes a key role for rBAT in cystine transport. The two classes of amino acid transporters are compared with the well-studied GLUT family of Na(+)-independent glucose transporters.

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