Recent advances in studies on biochemical and structural properties of equilibrative and concentrative nucleoside transporters

Acta Biochim Pol. 2005;52(4):749-58. Epub 2005 Oct 25.


Nucleoside transporters (NT) facilitate the movement of nucleosides and nucleobases across cell membranes. NT-mediated transport is vital for the synthesis of nucleic acids in cells that lack de novo purine synthesis. Some nucleosides display biological activity and act as signalling molecules. For example, adenosine exerts a potent action on many physiological processes including vasodilatation, hormone and neurotransmitter release, platelet aggregation, and lipolysis. Therefore, carrier-mediated transport of this nucleoside plays an important role in modulating cell function, because the efficiency of the transport processes determines adenosine availability to its receptors or to metabolizing enzymes. Nucleoside transporters are also key elements in anticancer and antiviral therapy with the use of nucleoside analogues. Mammalian cells possess two major nucleoside transporter families: equilibrative (ENT) and concentrative (CNT) Na(+)-dependent ones. This review characterizes gene loci, substrate specificity, tissue distribution, membrane topology and structure of ENT and CNT proteins. Regulation of nucleoside transporters by various factors is also presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleoside Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nucleoside Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nucleosides / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Nucleoside Transport Proteins
  • Nucleosides