The equilibrative nucleoside transporter family, SLC29

Pflugers Arch. 2004 Feb;447(5):735-43. doi: 10.1007/s00424-003-1103-2. Epub 2003 Jun 28.


The human SLC29 family of proteins contains four members, designated equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs) because of the properties of the first-characterised family member, hENT1. They belong to the widely-distributed eukaryotic ENT family of equilibrative and concentrative nucleoside/nucleobase transporters and are distantly related to a lysosomal membrane protein, CLN3, mutations in which cause neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. A predicted topology of 11 transmembrane helices with a cytoplasmic N-terminus and an extracellular C-terminus has been experimentally confirmed for hENT1. The best-characterised members of the family, hENT1 and hENT2, possess similar broad substrate specificities for purine and pyrimidine nucleosides, but hENT2 in addition efficiently transports nucleobases. The ENT3 and ENT4 isoforms have more recently also been shown to be genuine nucleoside transporters. All four isoforms are widely distributed in mammalian tissues, although their relative abundance varies: ENT2 is particularly abundant in skeletal muscle. In polarised cells ENT1 and ENT2 are found in the basolateral membrane and, in tandem with concentrative transporters of the SLC28 family, may play a role in transepithelial nucleoside transport. The transporters play key roles in nucleoside and nucleobase uptake for salvage pathways of nucleotide synthesis, and are also responsible for the cellular uptake of nucleoside analogues used in the treatment of cancers and viral diseases. In addition, by regulating the concentration of adenosine available to cell surface receptors, they influence many physiological processes ranging from cardiovascular activity to neurotransmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family / physiology
  • Nucleosides / metabolism*


  • Equilibrative Nucleoside Transport Proteins
  • Nucleosides