SLC superfamily of solute carriers C


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The SLC superfamily of solute carriers is the second largest family of membrane proteins after G protein-coupled receptors, but with a great deal fewer therapeutic drugs that exploit them. As with the ABC transporters, however, they play a major role in drug disposition and so can be hugely influential in determining the clinical efficacy of particular drugs.

48 families are identified on the basis of sequence similarities, but many of them overlap in terms of the solutes that they carry. For example, amino acid accumulation is mediated by members of the SLC1, SLC3/7, SLC6, SLC15, SLC16, SLC17, SLC32, SLC36, SLC38 and SLC43. Further members of the SLC superfamily regulate ion fluxes at the plasma membrane, or solute transport into and out of cellular organelles.

Within the SLC superfamily, there is an abundance in diversity of structure. Two families (SLC3 and SLC7) only generate functional transporters as heteromeric partners, where one partner is a single TM domain protein. Membrane topology predictions for other families suggest 3, 4 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 TM domains. Functionally, members may be divided into those dependent on gradients of ions (particularly sodium, chloride or protons), exchange of solutes or simple equilibrative gating. For many members, the stoichiometry of transport is not yet established. Furthermore, one family of transporters also possess enzymatic activity (SLC27), while many members function as ion channels (e.g. SLC1A7/EAAT5), which increases the complexity of function of the SLC superfamily.


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How to cite this family page

Database page citation:

SLC superfamily of solute carriers. Accessed on 30/04/2017. IUPHAR/BPS Guide to PHARMACOLOGY,

Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY citation:

Alexander SPH, Kelly E, Marrion N, Peters JA, Benson HE, Faccenda E, Pawson AJ, Sharman JL, Southan C, Davies JA and CGTP Collaborators (2015) The Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY 2015/16: Transporters. Br J Pharmacol. 172: 6110-6202.