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The SLC16 gene family—from monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) to aromatic amino acid transporters and beyond


The monocarboxylate cotransporter (MCT) family now comprises 14 members, of which only the first four (MCT1–MCT4) have been demonstrated experimentally to catalyse the proton-linked transport of metabolically important monocarboxylates such as lactate, pyruvate and ketone bodies. SLC16A10 (T-type amino-acid transporter-1, TAT1) is an aromatic amino acid transporter whilst the other members await characterization. MCTs have 12 transmembrane domains (TMDs) with intracellular N- and C-termini and a large intracellular loop between TMDs 6 and 7. MCT1 and MCT4 require a monotopic ancillary protein, CD147, for expression of functional protein at the plasma membrane. Lactic acid transport across the plasma membrane is fundamental for the metabolism of and pH regulation of all cells, removing lactic acid produced by glycolysis and allowing uptake by those cells utilizing it for gluconeogenesis (liver and kidney) or as a respiratory fuel (heart and red muscle). The properties of the different MCT isoforms and their tissue distribution and regulation reflect these roles.

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Work performed in the authors' laboratories was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council, The Wellcome Trust and The British Heart Foundation.

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Correspondence to Andrew P. Halestrap.

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Halestrap, A.P., Meredith, D. The SLC16 gene family—from monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) to aromatic amino acid transporters and beyond. Pflugers Arch - Eur J Physiol 447, 619–628 (2004).

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  • Lactate
  • Intracellular pH
  • Glycolysis
  • monocarboxylate transporter (MCT)