Structural Biology of the Major Facilitator Superfamily Transporters

Annu Rev Biophys. 2015:44:257-83. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-060414-033901.


The ancient and ubiquitous major facilitator superfamily (MFS) represents the largest secondary transporter family and plays a crucial role in a multitude of physiological processes. MFS proteins transport a broad spectrum of ions and solutes across membranes via facilitated diffusion, symport, or antiport. In recent years, remarkable advances in understanding the structural biology of the MFS transporters have been made. This article reviews the history, classification, and general features of the MFS proteins; summarizes recent structural progress with a focus on the sugar porter family transporters exemplified by GLUT1; and discusses the molecular mechanisms of substrate binding, alternating access, and cotransport coupling.

Keywords: GLUT1; MFS; alternating access; major facilitator superfamily; membrane transport.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / chemistry
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / history
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Membrane Transport Proteins