Unraveling the functional role of the orphan solute carrier, SLC22A24 in the transport of steroid conjugates through metabolomic and genome-wide association studies

PLoS Genet. 2019 Sep 25;15(9):e1008208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008208. eCollection 2019 Sep.


Variation in steroid hormone levels has wide implications for health and disease. The genes encoding the proteins involved in steroid disposition represent key determinants of interindividual variation in steroid levels and ultimately, their effects. Beginning with metabolomic data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), we observed that genetic variants in the orphan transporter, SLC22A24 were significantly associated with levels of androsterone glucuronide and etiocholanolone glucuronide (sentinel SNPs p-value <1x10-30). In cells over-expressing human or various mammalian orthologs of SLC22A24, we showed that steroid conjugates and bile acids were substrates of the transporter. Phylogenetic, genomic, and transcriptomic analyses suggested that SLC22A24 has a specialized role in the kidney and appears to function in the reabsorption of organic anions, and in particular, anionic steroids. Phenome-wide analysis showed that functional variants of SLC22A24 are associated with human disease such as cardiovascular diseases and acne, which have been linked to dysregulated steroid metabolism. Collectively, these functional genomic studies reveal a previously uncharacterized protein involved in steroid homeostasis, opening up new possibilities for SLC22A24 as a pharmacological target for regulating steroid levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androsterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Androsterone / genetics
  • Androsterone / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Models, Molecular
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Steroids / metabolism*
  • Symporters / chemistry
  • Symporters / genetics
  • Symporters / metabolism*


  • Organic Cation Transport Proteins
  • SLC22A4 protein, human
  • Steroids
  • Symporters
  • androsterone glucuronide
  • Androsterone