Image of Solute Carriers Keep on Rockin’

Solute Carriers Keep on Rockin’

Trevor Moraes and Reinhart Reithmeier discuss SLC26 transporters in a News & Views article published in the October 6, 2015 issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology entitled “ Solute Carriers Keep on Rockin’ ”.  The 400 members of the human solute carriers (SLC) remain among the most poorly characterized of human gene families, although they are essential for nutrient uptake, waste removal and ion transport.  Furthermore, mutations in the genes encoding these membrane proteins are linked to an increasing number of human diseases ranging from anemia to zinc deficiency.  Crystallizing human membrane proteins remains a challenge, but advances are being made in solving the structures of bacterial homologues that are easier to express, purify and crystallize.  The News & Views article comments on an article in the same issue describing the first structure of a prokaryotic member of the SLC26 family of anion transporters.  The structure revealed a rare 14 transmembrane segment organization with a 7 + 7 inverted topology.  The anion is held in place at the ends of two half-helices in the centre of the protein, with alternating access to the outside and inside of the cell by a rocking motion of a core and gate domain.