Na+/L-ascorbic acid transporter family is also known as solute carrier family 23. L-ascorbic acid is an effective antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals and an essential cofactor in many enzymatic reactions. The SLC23 family comprises two Na+-dependent vitamin C transporters, SLC23A1 and SLC23A2, which display similar properties, including high affinity for L-ascorbic acid. SLC23A1 and SLC23A2 mediate Na+-dependent uptake of L-ascorbic acid (a reduced form of vitamin C) when heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes or HRPE cells. SLC23A1 exhibits high affinity for L-ascorbic acid and displays an exquisite preference for L-ascorbic acid over the stereoisomer D-isoascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), various analogs, or intermediates of vitamin C metabolism. The affinity of SLC23A2 for L-ascorbic acid may be even higher than that of SVCT1.
Fig.1 Mechanisms of vitamin C transport. L-Ascorbic acid (L-Asc) enters cells via the Na+-coupled transporters SVCT1 and SVCT2 (for clarity Na+ is omitted for SVCT2 in the diagram). (Takanaga, 2004)
Although they exhibit very similar functional characteristics, SLC23A1 and SLC23A2 are discretely distributed. In situ hybridization reveals that SLC23A1 is mainly restricted to the bulk-transporting epithelial systems such as kidney S3 proximal tubule, intestine, and liver, as well as other epithelial tissues such as epididymis, lung, and lacrimal glands. SLC23A2 serves a number of metabolically active and specialized cells and tissues, including lung, eyes, neurons, and placenta, as well as a range of neuroendocrine, exocrine, and endothelial tissues. In situ hybridization localizes SLC23A2 to neurons throughout the brain and to the inner nuclear layer of the retina, and RT-PCR confirms SLC23A2 expression in embryonic central neurons.
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