The solute carrier family 41 (SLC41) of vertebrate magnesium transporters was first identified and characterized in 2003. The family consists of three members - SLC41A1, SLC41A2, and SLC41A3. Members of the SLC41 transporter family are found in all eukaryotes, and Mg2+ transporters in vertebrate cells display distant homology to the prokaryotic MgtE family of Mg2+ transporters.
Fig.1 Mg2+ transporters in vertebrate cells. (Sahni, 2013)
SLC41A1 was the first member of the family to be described. High expression levels of SLC41A1 have been detected in the human heart and testis, while prostate, adrenal gland, skeletal muscle, and thyroid have lower expression levels. SLC41A1 acts as a non-specific divalent cation channel. The PARK16 (Parkinson disease 16) locus has been shown to carry mutations in patients of both European and Asian ancestries.
The second member of the SLC41 transporter family, SLC41A2, has now been identified in a large number of vertebrate species. SLC41A2 is expressed in normal human tissues with lymph nodes, skin, lungs, stomach, and testis. According to the database on the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) website, SLC41A2 is reported as either over or under expressed in 75 disease states including a number of carcinomas and lymphomas. Since both SLC41A1 and SLC41A2 have been shown to function as magnesium transporters, SLC41A3 is likely to play a similar functional role in vertebrates.
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