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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 1;104(18):7693-8. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Nonmammalian orthologs of prestin (SLC26A5) are electrogenic divalent/chloride anion exchangers.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology II, University of Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Strasse 7, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Individual members of the mammalian SLC26 anion transporter family serve two fundamentally distinct functions. Whereas most members transport different anion substrates across a variety of epithelia, prestin (SLC26A5) is special, functioning as a membrane-localized motor protein that generates electrically induced motions (electromotility) in auditory sensory hair cells of the mammalian inner ear. The transport mechanism of SLC26 proteins is not well understood, and a mechanistic relation between anion transport and electromotility has been suggested but not firmly established so far. To address these questions, we have cloned prestin orthologs from chicken and zebrafish, nonmammalian vertebrates that presumably lack electromotility in their auditory systems. Using patch-clamp recordings, we show that these prestin orthologs, but not mammalian prestin, generate robust transport currents in the presence of the divalent anions sulfate or oxalate. Transport is blocked by salicylate, an inhibitor of electromotility generated by mammalian prestin. The dependence of transport equilibrium potentials on sulfate and chloride concentration gradients shows that the prestin orthologs are electrogenic antiporters, exchanging sulfate or oxalate for chloride in a strictly coupled manner with a 1:1 stoichiometry. These data identify transport mode and stoichiometry of electrogenic divalent/monovalent anion exchange and establish a reliable and simple method for the quantitative determination of the various transport modes that have been proposed for other SLC26 transport proteins. Moreover, the sequence conservation between mammalian and nonmammalian prestin together with a common pharmacology of electromotility and divalent antiport suggest that the molecular mechanism behind electromotility is closely related to an anion transport cycle.

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