The SLC13 gene family is comprised of five sequence related proteins that are found in animals, plants, yeast and bacteria. Proteins encoded by the SLC13 genes are divided into the following two groups of transporters with distinct anion specificities: the Na(+)-sulfate (NaS) cotransporters and the Na(+)-carboxylate (NaC) cotransporters. Members of this gene family (in ascending order) are: SLC13A1 (NaS1), SLC13A2 (NaC1), SLC13A3 (NaC3), SLC13A4 (NaS2) and SLC13A5 (NaC2). SLC13 proteins encode plasma membrane polypeptides with 8-13 putative transmembrane domains, and are expressed in a variety of tissues. They are all Na(+)-coupled symporters with strong cation preference for Na(+), and insensitive to the stilbene 4, 4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2, 2'-disulphonic acid (DIDS). Their Na(+):anion coupling ratio is 3:1, indicative of electrogenic properties. They have a substrate preference for divalent anions, which include tetra-oxyanions for the NaS cotransporters or Krebs cycle intermediates (including mono-, di- and tricarboxylates) for the NaC cotransporters. This review will describe the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the biochemical, physiological and structural properties of the SLC13 gene family.
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