In the presence of a 100 mM Na+ gradient, transport of L-carnitine into rat renal brush-border-membrane vesicles was linear over 30 s and showed an overshoot at 5 min. The uptake of L-carnitine was clearly less active in the presence of other cations such as Li+, K+, Cs+ or choline. In the presence of a Na+ gradient, L-carnitine uptake after 20 s was much higher for chloride as an anion than for SCN-, NO3-, gluconate or SO4(2-). In comparison with conditions with inside positive or no membrane potential, transport was higher in vesicles with an inside negative membrane potential, suggesting an electrogenic mechanism. The kinetic characterization of the Na(+)-dependent portion of L-carnitine transport revealed two transport systems with Km values of 17.4 +/- 3.9 microM and 15.0 +/- 6.0 mM, respectively. The transport could be inhibited in a concentration-dependent fashion by structural analogues such as butyrobetaine, L-acetylcarnitine, trimethyl-lysine and D-carnitine, but not by L-arginine or glycinebetaine.

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