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Deciphering the mechanisms of intestinal imino (and amino) acid transport: The redemption of SLC36A1

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Thwaites, Dr Catriona AndersonORCiD


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The absorption of zwitterionic imino and amino acids, and related drugs, is an essential function of the small intestinal epithelium. This review focuses on the physiological roles of transporters recently identified at the molecular level, in particular SLC36A1, by identifying how they relate to the classical epithelial imino and amino acid transporters characterised in mammalian small intestine in the 1960s-1990s. SLC36A1 transports a number of d- and l-imino and amino acids, β- and γ-amino acids and orally-active neuromodulatory and antibacterial agents. SLC36A1 (or PAT1) functions as a proton-coupled imino and amino acid symporter in cooperation with the Na+/H+ exchanger NHE3 (SLC9A3) to produce the imino acid carrier identified in rat small intestine in the 1960s but subsequently ignored because of confusion with the IMINO transporter. However, it is the sodium/imino and amino acid cotransporter SLC6A20 which corresponds to the betaine carrier (identified in hamster, 1960s) and IMINO transporter (identified in rabbit and guinea pig, 1980s). This review summarises evidence for expression of SLC36A1 and SLC6A20 in human small intestine, highlights the differences in functional characteristics of the imino acid carrier and IMINO transporter, and explains the confusion surrounding these two distinct transport systems. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thwaites DT, Anderson CMH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta: Biomembranes

Year: 2007

Volume: 1768

Issue: 2

Pages: 179-197

Print publication date: 01/02/2007

ISSN (print): 0005-2736

ISSN (electronic): 0006-3002

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2006.10.001

PubMed id: 17123464


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Funder referenceFunder name
078640Wellcome Trust
078640/Z/05/ZWellcome Trust