The study may be of significance not just to cancer research but also in the field of diabetes. GLUT plays a key role in diabetes since insulin works by activating the uptake of glucose from the blood by means of GLUT transporters in the cell membrane.
GLUT and the studied XylE transporter belong to the very large group of metabolite transporters called the Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS), which is important in many diseases and for the uptake of medicines in cells.
"Many aspects concerning molecular mechanisms for the function of GLUT transporters are probably common to many members of the MFS family, which are involved in a broad spectrum of diseases in addition to cancer and diabetes," says Pr Nordlund.
As well as membrane transporters, which have undergone in-depth analysis in the current study, many different membrane proteins pass through the surface membrane of the cells. Their significance to the cell function and the development of drugs has been noted before, not least through the Nobel Prizes that were awarded to researchers who used mechanistic and structural studies to map the function of two other major membrane protein families, G-protein-coupled receptors and ion channels.
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