Excitatory amino acid transporter 3 is a member of the high-affinity glutamate transporters which plays an essential role in transporting glutamate across plasma membranes in neurons. In the brain, excitatory amino acid transporters are crucial in terminating the postsynaptic action of the neurotransmitter glutamate, and in maintaining extracellular glutamate concentrations below neurotoxic levels. EAAT3 also transports aspartate, and mutations in this gene are thought to cause dicarboxylic aminoaciduria, also known as glutamate-aspartate transport defect. EAAT3 is also the major route of neuronal cysteine uptake. Cysteine is a component of the major antioxidant glutathione, and mice lacking EAAT3 exhibit reduced levels of glutathione in neurons, increased oxidative stress, and age-dependent loss of neurons, especially neurons of the substantia nigra. A meta-analysis identified a small but significant association between a polymorphism of the gene SLC1A1 and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
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