Identification and reconstitution of the nucleoside transporter of CEM human leukemia cells

Charles R. Crawford, Catherine Y.C. Ng, Buddy Ullman, Judith A. Belt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The major nucleoside transporter of the human T leukemia cell line CEM has been identified by photoaffinity labeling with the transport inhibitor nitrobenzylmercaptopurine riboside (NBMPR). The photolabeled protein migrates on SDS-PAGE gels as a broad band with a mean apparent molecular weight (75 000 ± 3000) significantly higher than that reported for the nucleoside transporter in human erythrocytes (55 000) (Young et al. (1983) J. Biol. Chem. 258, 2202-2208). However, after treatment with endoglycosidase F to remove carbohydrate, the NBMPR-binding protein in CEM cells migrates as a sharp peak with an apparent molecular weight (47 000 ± 3000) identical to that reported for the deglycosylated protein in human erythrocytes (Kwong et al. (1986) Biochem. J. 240, 349-356). It therefore appears that the difference in the apparent molecular weight of the NBMPR-sensitive nucleoside transporter between the CEM cell line and human erythrocytes is a result of differences in glycosylation. The NBMPR-binding protein from CEM cells has been solubilized with 1% octyl glucoside and reconstituted into phospholipid vesicles by a freeze-thaw sonication technique. Optimal reconstitution of uridine transport activity was achieved using a sonication interval of 5 to 10 s and lipid to protein ratios of 60:1 or greater. Under these conditions transport activity in the reconstituted vesicles was proportional to the protein concentration and was inhibited by NBMPR. Omission of lipid or protein, or substitution of a protein extract prepared from a nucleoside transport deficient mutant of the CEM cell line resulted in vesicles with no uridine transport activity. The initial rate of uridine transport, in the vesicles prepared with CEM protein, was saturable with a Km of 103 ± 11 μM and was inhibited by adenosine, thymidine and cytidine. The Km for uridine and the potency of the other nucleosides as inhibitors of uridine transport (adenosine > thymidine > cytidine) were similar to intact cells. Thus, although the nucleoside transporter of CEM cells has a higher molecular weight than the human erythrocyte transporter, it exhibits typical NBMPR-sensitive nucleoside transport activity both in the intact cell and when reconstituted into phospholipid vesicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 24 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • (Cultured human cell)
  • Nitrobenzylmercaptopurine riboside
  • Nitrobenzylthioinosine
  • Nucleoside transport
  • Reconstitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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