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Transporter oligomerization: form and function.


Transporters are integral membrane proteins with central roles in the efficient movement of molecules across biological membranes. Many transporters exist as oligomers in the membrane. Depending on the individual transport protein, oligomerization can have roles in membrane trafficking, function, regulation and turnover. For example, our recent studies on UapA, a nucleobase ascorbate transporter, from Aspergillus nidulans, have revealed both that dimerization of this protein is essential for correct trafficking to the membrane and the structural basis of how one UapA protomer can affect the function of the closely associated adjacent protomer. Here, we review the roles of oligomerization in many particularly well-studied transporters and transporter families.