Normal leucocyte lysosome-rich granular fractions exhibited counter-transport of cystine, confirming that cystine transport across the lysosomal membrane is carrier-mediated. The trans-activation of cystine transport was temperature-dependent but relatively independent of the external Na+ or K+ concentration in phosphate buffer. Counter-transport, measured as uptake of exogenous [3H]cystine, increased with increasing intralysosomal cystine content up to approx. 3 nmol of half-cystine/unit of hexosaminidase activity. The amount of [3H]cystine entering lysosomes loaded with unlabelled cystine decreased when unlabelled cystine was added to the extralysosomal medium. Lysosomal cystine counter-transport was stereospecific for the L-isomer. Cystathionine, cystamine and cysteamine-cysteine mixed disulphide gave evidence of sharing the lysosomal cystine-transport system, although at lower activity than cystine. Other tested amino acids, including arginine, glutamate and homocystine, were inactive in this system. Nine leucocyte lysosome-rich preparations from eight different cystinotic patients displayed virtually no counter-transport of cystine, conclusively establishing that a carrier-mediated system for cystine transport is dysfunctional in cystinotic lysosomes.

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