N-Arachidonyl-glycine inhibits the glycine transporter, GLYT2a


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Robert J Vandenberg, Department of Pharmacology, Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. E-mail: robv@med.usyd.edu.au


N-arachidonyl-glycine is one of a series of N-arachidonyl-amino acids that are derived from arachidonic acid. N-arachidonyl-glycine is produced in a wide range of tissues with greatest abundance in the spinal cord. Here we report that N-arachidonyl-glycine is a reversible and non-competitive inhibitor of glycine transport by GLYT2a, but has little effect on glycine transport by GLYT1b or γ-amino butyric acid transport by GAT1. It has previously been reported that the activity of GLYT2a is down-regulated by protein kinase C and therefore we investigated whether the actions of N-arachidonyl-glycine on GLYT2a are mediated by second messenger systems that lead to the activation of protein kinase C. However, the protein kinase C inhibitor, staurosporine, had no effect on the actions of N-arachidonyl-glycine on GLYT2a. Thus, the actions of N-arachidonyl-glycine are likely to be mediated by a direct interaction with the transporter. We have further defined the pharmacophore by investigating the actions of other N-arachidonyl amino acids as well as the closely related compounds arachidonic acid, anandamide and R1-methanandamide. Arachidonic acid, anandamide and R1-methanandamide have no effect on glycine transport, but N-arachidonyl-l-alanine has similar efficacy at GLYT2a to N-arachidonyl-glycine, and N-arachidonyl-γ-amino butyric acid is less efficacious. These observations define a novel recognition site for the N-arachidonyl amino acids.