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Life Sci. 2006 Apr 18;78(21):2419-25. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

SLC5A8 (SMCT1)-mediated transport of butyrate forms the basis for the tumor suppressive function of the transporter.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30912, USA.


The identification of SLC5A8 as a tumor suppressor gene in colorectal cancer marks, for the first time, the association of a plasma membrane transporter with tumor suppressive properties. The subsequent establishment of the functional identity of SLC5A8 as a Na+-coupled transporter for short-chain monocarboxylates provides a mechanism for the tumor suppressive function of the transporter. Butyrate, a substrate for the transporter, is a histone deacetylase inhibitor and protective against colorectal cancer. This fatty acid is produced in the colonic lumen by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber. SLC5A8 mediates the concentrative entry of butyrate from the lumen into colonocytes. Consequently, the transport function of SLC5A8 has the ability to influence the acetylation status of histones and hence gene expression in colonocytes. The ability of SLC5A8 to deliver butyrate into colonic epithelial cells most likely underlies the tumor suppressive role of this transporter.

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