Renal elimination of anionic drugs, xenobiotics, and toxins is necessary for the survival of mammalian species. This process is mediated by vectorial transport from blood to urine through the cooperative functions of specific transporters in the basolateral and apical membranes of the proximal tubule epithelium. The first step of this process is the extraction of organic anions from the peritubular blood plasma into proximal tubule cells largely through the organic anion transporter (OAT) pathway. Therefore, the OAT pathway is one of the major sites for body drug clearance/detoxification. As a result, it is also the site for drug-drug interaction and drug-induced nephrotoxicity. To maximize therapeutic efficacy and minimize toxicity, the structure-function relationships of OATs and their regulation must be defined. The recent cloning and identification of OATs have paved the way for such investigations. This review summarizes the available data on the general properties of OATs, focusing in particular on the recent progress made from the author's laboratory as well as from other's, on the molecular characterization of the structure-function relationships of OATs and their regulatory mechanisms.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.