The SLC22 family of transporters is widely expressed, evolutionarily conserved, and plays a major role in regulating homeostasis by transporting small organic molecules such as metabolites, signaling molecules, and antioxidants. Analysis of transporters in fruit flies provides a simple yet orthologous platform to study the endogenous function of drug transporters in vivo. Evolutionary analysis of Drosophila melanogaster putative SLC22 orthologs reveals that, while many of the 25 SLC22 fruit fly orthologs do not fall within previously established SLC22 subclades, at least four members appear orthologous to mammalian SLC22 members (SLC22A16:CG6356, SLC22A15:CG7458, CG7442 and SLC22A18:CG3168). We functionally evaluated the role of SLC22 transporters in Drosophila melanogaster by knocking down 14 of these genes. Three putative SLC22 ortholog knockdowns-CG3168, CG6356, and CG7442/SLC22A-did not undergo eclosion and were lethal at the pupa stage, indicating the developmental importance of these genes. Additionally, knocking down four SLC22 members increased resistance to oxidative stress via paraquat testing (CG4630: p < 0.05, CG6006: p < 0.05, CG6126: p < 0.01 and CG16727: p < 0.05). Consistent with recent evidence that SLC22 is central to a Remote Sensing and Signaling Network (RSSN) involved in signaling and metabolism, these phenotypes support a key role for SLC22 in handling reactive oxygen species.
Keywords: Malpighian tubule; Remote Sensing and Signaling Theory; SLC22A15; SLC22A16; SLC22A18; interorgan communication; kidney; organic anion transporter; organic cation transporter; solute carrier 22 (SLC22).