Truncated Forms of the Dual Function Human ASCT2 Neutral Amino Acid Transporter/Retroviral Receptor Are Translationally Initiated at Multiple Alternative CUG and GUG Codons
Journal of Biological Chemistry
The sodium-dependent neutral amino acid transporter type 2 (ASCT2) was recently identified as a cell surface receptor for endogenously inherited retroviruses of cats, baboons, and humans as well as for horizontally transmitted type-D simian retroviruses. By functional cloning, we obtained 10 full-length 2.9-kilobase pair (kbp) cDNAs and two smaller identical 2.1-kbp cDNAs that conferred susceptibility to these viruses. Compared with the 2.9-kbp cDNA, the 2.1-kbp cDNA contains exonic deletions
... exonic deletions in its 3 noncoding region and a 627-bp 5 truncation that eliminates sequences encoding the amino-terminal portion of the full-length ASCT2 protein. Although expression of the truncated mRNA caused enhanced amino acid transport and viral receptor activities, the AUG codon nearest to its 5 end is flanked by nucleotides that are incompatible with translational initiation and the next in-frame AUG codon is far downstream toward the end of the protein coding sequence. Interestingly, the 5 region of the truncated ASCT2 mRNA contains a closely linked series of CUG(Leu) and GUG(Val) codons in optimal consensus contexts for translational initiation. By deletion and sitedirected mutagenesis, cell-free translation, and analyses of epitope-tagged ASCT2 proteins synthesized intracellularly, we determined that the truncated mRNA encodes multiple ASCT2 isoforms with distinct amino termini that are translationally initiated by a leaky scanning mechanism at these CUG and GUG codons. Although the fulllength ASCT2 mRNA contains a 5-situated AUG initiation codon, a significant degree of leaky scanning also occurred in its translation. ASCT2 isoforms with relatively short truncations were active in both amino acid transport and viral reception, whereas an isoform with a 79amino acid truncation that lacked the first transmembrane sequence was active only in viral reception. We conclude that ASCT2 isoforms with truncated amino termini are synthesized in mammalian cells by a leaky scanning mechanism that employs multiple alternative CUG and GUG initiation codons.