2.A.40 The Nucleobase/Ascorbate Transporter (NAT) or Nucleobase:Cation Symporter-2 (NCS2) Family
The NCS2 family, also called the nucleobase/ascorbate transporter (NAT) family (Koukaki et al. 2005; Karatza et al., 2006), consists of over 1000 sequenced proteins derived from Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, archaea, fungi, plants and animals. Of the five known families of transporters that act on nucleobases, it is the only one that is widespread (;(Gournas et al. 2008; Diallinas and Gournas 2013; (Frillingos 2012). Many functionally characterized members are specific for nucleobases including both purines and pyrimidines, but others are purine-specific. However, two closely related rat/mouse/human members of the family, SVCT1 and SVCT2, localized to different tissues of the body, cotransport L-ascorbate and Na+ with a high degree of specificity and high affinity for the vitamin (Diallinas and Gournas 2011). Clustering of NAT/NCS2 family members on the phylogenetic tree is complex with bacterial proteins and eukaryotic proteins each falling into at least three distinct clusters. The plant and animal proteins cluster loosely together, but the fungal proteins branch from one of the three bacterial clusters (Gournas et al. 2008). E. coli possesses four distantly related paralogous members of the NCS2 family. Evidence that this family is a member of the APC superfamily has been presented (Wong et al. 2012). Members of this family have the UraA fold (Ferrada and Superti-Furga 2022).
Proteins of the NCS2 family are 414-650 amino acyl residues in length and probably possess 14 TMSs. Lu et al. (2011) have concluded from x-ray crystallography that UraA (2.A.40.1.1) has 14 TMSs with two 7 TMS inverted repeats. A pair of antiparallel β-strands is located between TMS 3 and TMS 10 and has an important role in structural organization and substrate recognition. The structure is spatially arranged into a core domain and a gate domain. Uracil, located at the interface between the two domains, is coordinated mainly by residues from the core domain. Structural analyses and relationships to other structurally members of the APC superfamily suggest that alternating access of the substrate may be achieved through conformational changes of the gate domain (Wong et al. 2012).
The first 3-d structure of a eukaryotic NCS2 family member to be crystalized was that of UapA (Alguel et al. 2016). This structure is similar to UraA, but additionally revealed that NATs dimerize and that the dimer is probably the functional unit. Dimerization appeared to be critical for specificity. Subsequent publications on UraA showed that this porter is also dimeric (Yu et al. 2017). Further analyses confirmed primary sequence comparitive data showing that the NCB2 family is a member of the APC superfamily (Vastermark et al. 2014). This conclusion has been further verified (Chang and Geertsma 2017). The 7+7 TMS inverted repeat topology of UapA/UraA is also found in several transporters of the APC suprefamily with little primary amino acid sequence similarity with NATs, such as AzgA-like purine transporters (TC# 2.A.40.7.1), plant boron transporters Bor1-3 (e.g., TC# 2.A.31.3), the human Band3 anion exchanger (TC#2.A.31.1.1), and members of SulP transporter family (TC# 2.A.53). All these may be homodimeric transporters which seem to function via the so-called “elevator mechanism” of transport.
The generalized transport reactions catalyzed by proteins of the NAT/NCS2 are:
Nucleobase (out) + H+ (out) → Nucleobase (in) + H+ (in)
Ascorbate (out) + Na+ (out) → Ascorbate (in) + Na+ (in).