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Biochem Cell Biol. 2002;80(5):483-97.

Bicarbonate transport proteins.

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Department of Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Bicarbonate is not freely permeable to membranes. Yet, bicarbonate must be moved across membranes, as part of CO2 metabolism and to regulate cell pH. Mammalian cells ubiquitously express bicarbonate transport proteins to facilitate the transmembrane bicarbonate flux. These bicarbonate transporters, which function by different transport mechanisms, together catalyse transmembrane bicarbonate movement. Recent advances have allowed the identification of several new bicarbonate transporter genes. Bicarbonate transporters cluster into two separate families: (i) the anion exachanger (AE) family of Cl-/HCO3- exchangers is related in sequence to the NBC family of Na+/HCO3- cotransporters and the Na(+)-dependent Cl/HCO3- exchangers and (ii) some members of the SLC26a family of sulfate transporters will also transport bicarbonate but are not related in sequence to the AE/NBC family of transporters. This review summarizes our understanding of the mammalian bicarbonate transporter superfamily.

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