Mech Dev. 2019 Jan 6. pii: S0925-4773(18)30135-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2019.01.001. [Epub ahead of print]
slc7a5 (also known as LAT1), largely accepted as an amino acid transporter, has been shown to play important roles in cancer and developmental processes. Because knockout mice of Slc7a5 are embryonically lethal due to placental defects, it is difficult to evaluate its role in early development. In this study, expression and function of slc7a5 were evaluated in Xenopus laevis embryos that develop without a placenta. Expression of slc7a5 was detected in the notochord and in the eye and it was not co-localized with slc3a2, which helps slc7a5 to localize at the plasma membrane, before the late neurula stage. Loss-of-function experiment with a morpholino antisense oligonucleotide led to defect of neural and non-neural patterning, inhibition of primary neurogenesis, and disruption of eye development. Disruption of neural development and primary neurogenesis was likely due to impaired notochord development as sonic hedgehog (shh) signaling pathway was compromised in slc7a5-inhibited embryos. These results suggest that slc7a5 is required for notochord development and subsequent primary neurogenesis via shh/gli signaling and for eye development. These novel developmental roles of slc7a5 appeared to be independent of transport function at least before the late neurula stage.
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