Describing inhibitor specificity for the amino acid transporter LAT1 from metainference simulations

Keino Hutchinson, Dina Buitrago Silva, Joshua Bohlke, Chase Clausen, Allen A. Thomas, Massimiliano Bonomi, Avner Schlessinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The human L-type amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1; SLC7A5) is a membrane transporter of amino acids, thyroid hormones, and drugs such as the Parkinson's disease drug levodopa (L-Dopa). LAT1 is found in the blood-brain barrier, testis, bone marrow, and placenta, and its dysregulation has been associated with various neurological diseases, such as autism and epilepsy, as well as cancer. In this study, we combine metainference molecular dynamics simulations, molecular docking, and experimental testing, to characterize LAT1-inhibitor interactions. We first conducted a series of molecular docking experiments to identify the most relevant interactions between LAT1's substrate-binding site and ligands, including both inhibitors and substrates. We then performed metainference molecular dynamics simulations using cryoelectron microscopy structures in different conformations of LAT1 with the electron density map as a spatial restraint, to explore the inherent heterogeneity in the structures. We analyzed the LAT1 substrate-binding site to map important LAT1-ligand interactions as well as newly described druggable pockets. Finally, this analysis guided the discovery of previously unknown LAT1 ligands using virtual screening and cellular uptake experiments. Our results improve our understanding of LAT1-inhibitor recognition, providing a framework for rational design of future lead compounds targeting this key drug target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4476-4491
Number of pages16
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number23
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2022


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