The cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporter BicA: its physiological role and the implications of structural similarities with human SLC26 transporters

Biochem Cell Biol. 2011 Apr;89(2):178-88. doi: 10.1139/o10-136.


The cyanobacterial Na+-dependent HCO3- transporter BicA is a member of the ubiquitous and important SulP/SLC26 family of anion transporters found in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. BicA is an important component of the cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanism, an adaptation that contributes to cyanobacteria being able to achieve an estimated 25% of global primary productivity, largely in the oceans. The human SLC26 members are involved in a range of key cellular functions involving a diverse range of anion transport activities including Cl-/HCO3-, I-/HCO3-, and SO42-/HCO3- exchange; mutations in SLC26 members are known to be associated with debilitating diseases such as Pendred syndrome, chondrodysplasias, and congenital chloride diarrhoea. We have recently experimentally determined the membrane topology of BicA using the phoA-lacZ reporter system and here consider some of the extrapolated implications for topology of the human SLC26 family and the Sultr plant sulphate transporters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Anion Transport Proteins / classification
  • Anion Transport Proteins / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / classification
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Bicarbonates / metabolism*
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Isoforms / classification
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Syndrome


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bicarbonates
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon