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Front Mol Biosci. 2016 Jun 2;3:21. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2016.00021. eCollection 2016.

A Numbering System for MFS Transporter Proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford Oxford, UK.
UCB Pharma S.A. Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium.


The Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) is one of the largest classes of secondary active transporters and is widely expressed in many domains of life. It is characterized by a common 12-transmembrane helix motif that allows the selective transport of a vast range of diverse substrates across the membrane. MFS transporters play a central role in many physiological processes and are increasingly recognized as potential drug targets. Despite intensive efforts, there are still only a handful of crystal structures and therefore homology modeling is likely to be a necessary process for providing models to interpret experiments for many years to come. However, the diversity of sequences and the multiple conformational states these proteins can exist in makes the process significantly more complicated, especially for sequences for which there is very little sequence identity to known templates. Inspired by the approach adopted many years ago for GPCRs, we have analyzed the large number of MFS sequences now available alongside the current structural information to propose a series of conserved contact points that can provide additional guidance for the homology modeling process. To enable cross-comparison across MFS models we also present a numbering scheme that can be used to provide a point of reference within each of the 12 transmembrane regions.


LacY; alternating access; homology modeling; transmembrane; transport

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