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J Gen Physiol. 2011 Feb;137(2):239-51. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201010531.

Determinants of coupled transport and uncoupled current by the electrogenic SLC26 transporters.

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Epithelial Signaling and Transport Section, Molecular Physiology and Therapeutics Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Members of the SLC26 family of anion transporters mediate the transport of diverse molecules ranging from halides to carboxylic acids and can function as coupled transporters or as channels. A unique feature of the two members of the family, Slc26a3 and Slc26a6, is that they can function as both obligate coupled and mediate an uncoupled current, in a channel-like mode, depending on the transported anion. To identify potential features that control the two modes of transport, we performed in silico modeling of Slc26a6, which suggested that the closest potential fold similarity of the Slc26a6 transmembrane domains is to the CLC transporters, despite their minimal sequence identity. Examining the predicted Slc26a6 fold identified a highly conserved glutamate (Glu(-); Slc26a6(E357)) with the predicted spatial orientation similar to that of the CLC-ec1 E148, which determines coupled or uncoupled transport by CLC-ec1. This raised the question of whether the conserved Glu(-) in Slc26a6(E357) and Slc26a3(E367) have a role in the unique transport modes by these transporters. Reversing the Glu(-) charge in Slc26a3 and Slc26a6 resulted in the inhibition of all modes of transport. However, most notably, neutralizing the charge in Slc26a6(E357A) eliminated all forms of coupled transport without affecting the uncoupled current. The Slc26a3(E367A) mutation markedly reduced the coupled transport and converted the stoichiometry of the residual exchange from 2Cl(-)/1HCO(3)(-) to 1Cl(-)/1HCO(3)(-), while completely sparing the current. These findings suggest the possibility that similar structural motif may determine multiple functional modes of these transporters.

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