System xc− is a heterodimeric amino acid antiporter that, in the central nervous system, is best known for linking the import of L-cystine (CySS) with the export of L-glutamate for the production and maintenance of cellular glutathione (GSH) and extracellular glutamate levels, respectively. Yet, mice that are null for system xc− are healthy, fertile, and, morphologically, their brains are grossly normal. This suggests other glutamate and/or cyst(e)ine transport mechanisms may be upregulated in compensation. To test this, we measured the plasma membrane expression of Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters (EAATs) 1–3, the Alanine-Serine-Cysteine-Transporter (ASCT) 1, the sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter (SNAT) 3 and the L Amino Acid Transporter (LAT) 2 in striatum, hippocampus and cortex of male and female mice using Western Blot analysis. Present results demonstrate brain region and transporter-specific changes occurs in female system xc− null mice with increased expression of EAAT1 and ASCT1 occurring in the striatum and cortex, respectively, and decreased SNAT 3 expression in cortex. In male system xc− null brain, only SNAT3 was altered significantly - increasing in the cortex, but decreasing in the striatum. Total levels of GSH and CyS were similar to that found in age and sex-matched littermate control mice, however, reductions in the ratio of reduced to oxidized GSH (GSH/GSSG) — a hallmark of oxidative stress — were found in all three brain regions in female system xc− null mice, whereas this occurred exclusively in the striatum of males. Protein levels of Superoxide dismutase (SOD) 1 were reduced, whereas SOD2 was enhanced in the hippocampus of male xc− null mice only. Finally, striatal vulnerability to 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP)-mediated oxidative stress in either sex showed no genotype difference, although 3-NP was more toxic to female mice of either genotype, as evidenced by an increase in moribundity as compared to males.
- Oxidative stress
- System xc
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology