Conclusions

The active transport of N-acetyl-L-aspartate in astrocytes is mediated by NaC3, a Na+-coupled transporter belonging to the SLC13 gene family. Since the uptake of N-acetyl-L-aspartate into glial cells is a prerequisite for intracellular hydrolysis of this compound by aspartoacyalse II, a process involved in the utilization of N-acetyl-L-aspartate in myelination, we speculate that functional defects in NaC3 may lead to defective myelination. The SLC13A3 gene coding for human NaC3 is located on chromosome 20q12-13.1 and the structural organization of the gene has been elucidated.19 The molecular identification of the N-acetyl-L-aspartate transport system in glial cells as NaC3 raises the possibility that genetic defects in this gene may lead to inheritable forms of disorders associated with defective myelination.

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