A highly conserved hydrophobic motif in the exofacial vestibule of fructose transporting SLC2A proteins acts as a critical determinant of their substrate selectivity

Mol Membr Biol. Sep-Dec 2007;24(5-6):455-63. doi: 10.1080/09687680701298143.


The substrate specificity of the facilitated hexose transporter, GLUT, family, (gene SLC2A) is highly varied. Some appear to be able to translocate both glucose and fructose, while the ability to handle 2-deoxyglucose and galactose does not necessarily correlate with the other two hexoses. It has become generally accepted that a central substrate binding/translocation site determines which hexoses can be transported. However, a recent study showed that a single point mutation of a hydrophobic residue in GLUTs 2, 5 & 7 removed their ability to transport fructose without affecting the kinetics of glucose permeation. This residue is in the 7th transmembrane helix, facing the aqueous pore and lies close to the opening of the exofacial vestibule. This study expands these observations to include the other class II GLUTs (9 & 11) and shows that a three amino acid motif (NXI/NXV) appears to be critical in determining if fructose can access the translocation mechanism. GLUT11 can also transport fructose, but it has the motif DSV at the same position, which appears to function in the same manner as NXI and when all three residues are replaced with NAV fructose transport lost. These results are discussed in relation to possible roles for hydrophobic residues lining the aqueous pore at the opening of the exofacial vestibule. Finally, the possibility that the translocation binding site may not be the sole determinant of substrate specificity for these proteins is examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Blotting, Western
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Female
  • Fructose / metabolism*
  • Fructose / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / genetics
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / metabolism
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / physiology
  • Glucose Transporter Type 5 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 5 / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 5 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Microinjections
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Oocytes
  • Xenopus


  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Glucose Transporter Type 5
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • SLC2A11 protein, human
  • SLC2A5 protein, human
  • SLC2A9 protein, human
  • Fructose
  • Glucose