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Comput Biol Chem. 2017 Jun;68:153-163. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiolchem.2017.03.007. Epub 2017 Mar 18.

Structural modeling of human organic cation transporters.

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Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Research Center, Université de Montréal, Department of Medicine, 5415 Boul. de L' Assomption, Montréal, Québec H1T 2M4, Canada. Electronic address:
Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques (AFMB), Campus de Luminy, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France; Department of Pharmacoinformatics, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Sector 67, S.A.S. Nagar, 160 062, Punjab, India.
Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Research Center, Université de Montréal, Department of Medicine, 5415 Boul. de L' Assomption, Montréal, Québec H1T 2M4, Canada.


Human organic cation transporters (hOCTs) belong to solute carriers (SLC) 22 family of membrane proteins that play a central role in transportation of chemotherapeutic drugs for several clinical and pathological conditions, including cancer and diabetes. These transporters mediate drug transport; however, the precise mechanism of drug-binding and transport by them is not fully uncovered yet, partly due to unavailability of any crystal structure record. In this work, we performed a multi-phasic approach to compute the 3D structural models of seven human organic cation transporters (hOCTs) starting from primary protein sequence. Our structure modeling approach included 1) I-TASSER based comparative sequence alignment, threading and ab-initio protein modeling; 2) models comparison with PSIPRED secondary structure prediction; 3) loop modeling for incongruent secondary structure in Chimera 1.10.1; 4) high resolution structure simulation, refinement, energy minimization using ModRefiner, and 5) validation of the structure models using PROCHECK at SAVEs. From structural point, the computed 3D structures of hOCTs consist of a typical major facilitator superfamily (MFS) fold of twelve α-transmembrane helix domains arranged in a manner rendering hOCTs a barrel shaped structure with a large cleft that opens in cytoplasm. The modeled 3D structure of all hOCTs closely resemble to human SLC2A3 (GLUT3) transporter (PDB ID: 5c65) and displayed an outward-open confirmation and putative cyclic C1 protein symmetry. In addition, hOCTs has a large (>100 amino acids) unique extracellular loop between TMH1 and TMH2 having potential glycosylation sites (Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr) and cysteine residues, both features indicative of putative role in drug binding and uptake. There is an intracellular three/four-helix loop between TMH6 and TMH7 containing putative phosphorylation sites for precise regulation of hOCTs function as drug transporters. There are nine loops of 4 to 11 amino acids length that protrude from membrane, both intracellularly and extracellularly, and connect adjacent TMHs. The 2D structure prediction showed Nin-Cin topology of all hOCTs. In the unavailability of the crystal structures of hOCTs, the 3D structural models computed in-silico and presented herein can be used for studying the mechanism of drug binding and transport by hOCTs.


3D structures; Loop modeling; Model refinement; Model validation; Organic cation transporters; Protein structure prediction

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