The organic anion transporter family: from physiology to ontogeny and the clinic

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2001 Aug;281(2):F197-205. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.2001.281.2.F197.


The organic anion transporter (OAT) family handles a wide variety of clinically important compounds (antibiotics, nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.) and toxins. However, little is known about their appearance during development despite documented differences in the handling of anionic drugs among neonates, children, and adults. A similar spatiotemporal pattern of mRNA expression of the OATs (OAT1-4) during kidney development suggests that OAT genes may be useful in understanding the mechanisms of proximal tubule maturation. Moreover, OAT expression in unexpected extrarenal sites (e.g., spinal cord, bone, skin) has also been detected during development, possibly indicating a role for these transporters in the formation or preservation of extrarenal tissues. The cloning of these transporters also paves the way for computer-based modeling of drug-transporter interactions at the molecular level, potentially aiding in the design and assessment of new drugs. Additionally, increased understanding of single nucleotide polymorphisms in OATs and other transporters may eventually allow the use of a patient's expression profile and polymorphisms to individualize drug therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / embryology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins