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Amino Acids. 2008 Apr;34(3):347-55. Epub 2007 Jun 1.

SVCT1 and SVCT2: key proteins for vitamin C uptake.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Sciences, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


Vitamin C is accumulated in mammalian cells by two types of proteins: sodium-ascorbate co-transporters (SVCTs) and hexose transporters (GLUTs); in particular, SVCTs actively import ascorbate, the reduced form of this vitamin. SVCTs are surface glycoproteins encoded by two different genes, very similar in structure. They show distinct tissue distribution and functional characteristics, which indicate different physiological roles. SVCT1 is involved in whole-body homeostasis of vitamin C, while SVCT2 protects metabolically active cells against oxidative stress. Regulation at mRNA or protein level may serve for preferential accumulation of ascorbic acid at sites where it is needed. This review will summarize the present knowledge on structure, function and regulation of the SVCT transporters. Understanding the physiological role of SVCT1 and SVCT2 may lead to develop new therapeutic strategies to control intracellular vitamin C content or to promote tissue-specific delivery of vitamin C-drug conjugates.

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