Unlocking the therapeutic potential of SLC13 transporters

Researchers analyzed the functional properties of VcINDY (pictured), laying the groundwork for future studies of a family of transporters implicated in diabetes, obesity, and lifespan. Credit: Mulligan et al., 2014; structure from Protein Data Bank accession no. 4F35

Researchers have provided the first functional analysis of a member of a family of transporter proteins implicated in diabetes, obesity, and lifespan. The study appears in the June issue of The Journal of General Physiology.

Members of the SLC13 transporter family play a key role in the regulation of , , and other processes. Some SLC13 transporters mediate the transport of Krebs cycle intermediates—compounds essential for the body's metabolic activity—across the cell membrane. Previous studies have shown that loss of one member of this family protects mice against obesity and insulin resistance, and loss of another results in reduced fat storage and extended lifespan in fruit flies. These findings hint at the therapeutic potential of targeting these transporters to combat metabolic disease, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions.

A recently obtained high-resolution structure of VcINDY—a member of the SLC13 family found in the bacteria that causes cholera—has provided key structural insights, but understanding how these transporters function at the cellular level remains a mystery. To find out more, researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reconstituted VcINDY into small synthetic vesicles called liposomes that allowed them to monitor its activity in isolation. Led by Joseph Mindell, the team was thereby able to analyze the properties of VcINDY as a transporter and provide a model that lays the groundwork for future studies of SLC13 transporters, potentially providing the key that will enable researchers to unlock their therapeutic potential.

More information: Mulligan, C., et al. 2014. J. Gen. Physiol. DOI: 10.1085/jgp.201311141

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breakthrough: Sensors monitor cells at work

Jul 02, 2013

Transport proteins are responsible for moving materials such as nutrients and metabolic products through a cell's outer membrane, which seals and protects all living cells, to the cell's interior. These transported molecules ...

'Traffic' in our cells works both for and against us

May 01, 2013

A mechanism that permits essential substances to enter our cells while at the same time removing from them harmful components also has a "down side." This negative aspect prevents vital drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, from ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

5 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

6 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

Engineering new bone growth

Aug 19, 2014

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold ...

User comments