We have shown marked promotion of both cluster growth and neuronal specification in pluripotent P19 cells with overexpression of solute carrier 38a1 (Slc38a1), which is responsible for membrane transport of glutamine. In this study, we evaluated pharmacological profiles of the green tea amino acid ingredient theanine, which is a good substrate for glutamine transporters, on proliferation and neuronal specification in neural progenitor cells from embryonic rat neocortex. Sustained exposure to theanine, but not glutamine, accelerated the growth of neurospheres composed of proliferating cells and 3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) reducing activity at concentrations of 1–100 μM in undifferentiated progenitor cells. Such prior exposure to theanine promoted spontaneous and induced commitment to a neuronal lineage with concomitant deteriorated astroglial specification. Selective upregulation was seen in the expression of Slc38a1 in progenitor cells cultured with theanine. Similarly significant increases in cluster growth and MTT reducing activity were found in P19 cells cultured with theanine for 4 days. Luciferase activity was doubled in a manner sensitive to the deletion of promoter regions in P19 cells with a luciferase reporter plasmid of the Slc38a1 promoter after sustained exposure to theanine for 4 days. Overexpression of X-box binding protein-1 led to a marked increase in luciferase activity in P19 cells transfected with the Slc38a1 reporter plasmid. These results suggest that theanine accelerates cellular proliferation and subsequent neuronal specification through a mechanism relevant to upregulation of Slc38a1 gene in undifferentiated neural progenitor cells.
- Glutamine transporter
- Neural progenitors
- Neuronal specification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience