The importance of the excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (EAAT3)

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Abstract

The neuronal excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (EAAT3) is fairly ubiquitously expressed in the brain, though it does not necessarily maintain the same function everywhere. It is important in maintaining low local concentrations of glutamate, where its predominant post-synaptic localization can buffer nearby glutamate receptors and modulate excitatory neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity. It is also the main neuronal cysteine uptake system acting as the rate-limiting factor for the synthesis of glutathione, a potent antioxidant, in EAAT3 expressing neurons, while on GABAergic neurons, it is important in supplying glutamate as a precursor for GABA synthesis. Several diseases implicate EAAT3, and modulation of this transporter could prove a useful therapeutic approach. Regulation of EAAT3 could be targeted at several points for functional modulation, including the level of transcription, trafficking and direct pharmacological modulation, and indeed, compounds and experimental treatments have been identified that regulate EAAT3 function at different stages, which together with observations of EAAT3 regulation in patients is giving us insight into the endogenous function of this transporter, as well as the consequences of altered function. This review summarizes work done on elucidating the role and regulation of EAAT3.

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