Transport of inorganic phosphate (Pi) across the plasma membrane is essential for normal cellular function. Members of two families of SLC proteins (SLC20 and SLC34) act as Na(+)-dependent, secondary-active cotransporters to transport Pi across cell membranes. The SLC34 proteins are expressed in specific organs important for Pi homeostasis: NaPi-IIa (SLC34A1) and NaPi-IIc (SLC34A3) fulfill essential roles in Pi reabsorption in the kidney proximal tubule and NaPi-IIb (SLC34A2) mediates Pi absorption in the gut. The SLC20 proteins, PiT-1 (SLC20A1), PiT-2 (SLC20A2) are expressed ubiquitously in all tissues and although generally considered as "housekeeping" transport proteins, the discovery of tissue-specific activity, regulatory pathways and gene-related pathophysiologies, is redefining their importance. This review summarizes our current knowledge of SLC20 and SLC34 proteins in terms of their basic molecular characteristics, physiological roles, known pathophysiology and pharmacology.
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