Sexually dimorphic and brain region-specific transporter adaptations in system xc null mice

Heather M. Sosnoski, Sheila M.S. Sears, Yan He, Carla Frare, Sandra J. Hewett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104888
JournalNeurochemistry International
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Compensation
  • Cysteine
  • Glutathione
  • Oxidative stress
  • System xc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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