Indexed on: 13 Apr '06Published on: 13 Apr '06Published in: Cell and Tissue Research
The cystine-glutamate exchanger, system x(c)(-), mediates the Na(+)-independent exchange of cystine into cells, coupled to the efflux of intracellular glutamate. System x(c)(-) plays a critical role in glutathione homeostasis. Early studies of brain suggested that system x(c)(-) was present primarily in astrocytes but not neurons. More recent work indicates that certain brain neurons have an active system x(c)(-). In the retina, system x(c)(-) has been demonstrated in Müller and retinal pigment epithelial cells. We have recently suggested that two protein components of system x(c)(-), xCT and 4F2hc, are present in ganglion cells of the intact retina. Here, we have used (1) molecular and immunohistochemical assays to determine whether system x(c)(-) is present in primary ganglion cells isolated from neonatal mouse retinas and (2) functional assays to determine whether its activity is regulated by oxidative stress in a retinal ganglion cell line (RGC-5). Primary mouse ganglion cells and RGC-5 cells express xCT and 4F2hc. RGC-5 cells take up [(3)H]glutamate in the absence of Na(+), and this uptake is blocked by known substrates of system x(c)(-) (glutamate, cysteine, cystine, quisqualic acid). Treatment of RGC-5 cells with NO and reactive oxygen species donors leads to increased activity of system x(c)(-) associated with an increase in the maximal velocity of the transporter with no significant change in the substrate affinity. This is the first report of system x(c)(-) in primary retinal ganglion cells and RGC-5 cells. Oxidative stress upregulates this transport system in RGC-5 cells, and the process is associated with an increase in xCT mRNA and protein but no change in 4F2hc mRNA or protein.