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Compr Physiol. 2012 Apr;2(2):863-914.

Role of monosaccharide transport proteins in carbohydrate assimilation, distribution, metabolism, and homeostasis.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.


The facilitated diffusion of glucose, galactose, fructose, urate, myoinositol, and dehydroascorbicacid in mammals is catalyzed by a family of 14 monosaccharide transport proteins called GLUTs. These transporters may be divided into three classes according to sequence similarity and function/substrate specificity. GLUT1 appears to be highly expressed in glycolytically active cells and has been coopted in vitamin C auxotrophs to maintain the redox state of the blood through transport of dehydroascorbate. Several GLUTs are definitive glucose/galactose transporters, GLUT2 and GLUT5 are physiologically important fructose transporters, GLUT9 appears to be a urate transporter while GLUT13 is a proton/myoinositol cotransporter. The physiologic substrates of some GLUTs remain to be established. The GLUTs are expressed in a tissue specific manner where affinity, specificity, and capacity for substrate transport are paramount for tissue function. Although great strides have been made in characterizing GLUT-catalyzed monosaccharide transport and mapping GLUT membrane topography and determinants of substrate specificity, a unifying model for GLUT structure and function remains elusive. The GLUTs play a major role in carbohydrate homeostasis and the redistribution of sugar-derived carbons among the various organ systems. This is accomplished through a multiplicity of GLUT-dependent glucose sensing and effector mechanisms that regulate monosaccharide ingestion, absorption,distribution, cellular transport and metabolism, and recovery/retention. Glucose transport and metabolism have coevolved in mammals to support cerebral glucose utilization.

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