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Amino Acids. 2014 Mar;46(3):655-60. doi: 10.1007/s00726-013-1553-6. Epub 2013 Jul 13.

Polyamines and membrane transporters.

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Division of Applied Medicine, Kosterlitz Centre for Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, Scotland, UK.


In recent years, our understanding of the importance of membrane transporters (MTs) in the disposition of and response to drugs has increased significantly. MTs are proteins that regulate the transport of endogenous molecules and xenobiotics across the cell membrane. In mammals, two super-families have been identified: ATP-binding cassette (ABC) and solute carrier (SLC) transporters. There is evidence that MTs might mediate polyamines (PA) transport. PA are ubiquitous polycations which are found in all living cells. In mammalian cells, three major PA are synthesised: putrescine, spermidine and spermine; whilst the decarboxylated arginine (agmatine) is not produced by mammals but is synthesised by plants and bacteria. In addition, research in the PA field suggests that PA are transported into cells via a specific transporter, the polyamine transport system(s) (PTS). Although the PTS has not been fully defined, there is evidence that some of the known MTs might be involved in PA transport. In this mini review, eight SLC transporters will be reviewed and their potential to mediate PA transport in human cells discussed. These transporters are SLC22A1, SLC22A2, SLC22A3, SLC47A1, SLC7A1, SLC3A2, SLC12A8A, and SLC22A16. Preliminary data from our laboratory have revealed that SLC22A1 might be involved in the PA uptake; in addition to one member of ABC superfamily (MDR1 protein) might also mediate the efflux of polyamine like molecules.

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