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The human sodium-glucose cotransporter protein (SGLT1) is an important representative of the sodium solute symporters belonging to the secondary active transporters that are critical to the homeostasis of sugar, sodium, and water in the cell. The underlying transport mechanism of SGLT1 is based on switching between inward- and outward-facing conformations, known as the alternating access model, which is crucial for substrate transport, and has also been postulated for water permeation. However, the nature of water transport remains unclear and is disputed along the passive and active transport, with the latter postulating the presence of the pumping effect. To better examine the water transport in SGLT1, we performed a series of equilibrium all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, totaling over 6 μs of sample representative conformational states of SGLT1 and its complexes, with the natural substrates, ions, and inhibitors. In addition to elucidating the basic physical factors influencing water permeation, such as channel openings and energetics, we focus on dynamic flexibility and its relationship with domain motion. Our results clearly demonstrate a dependence of instantaneous water flux on the channel opening and local water diffusion in the channel, strongly supporting the existence of a passive water transport in SGLT1. In addition, a strong correlation found between the local water diffusion and protein domain motion, resembling the "rocking-bundle" motion, reveals its facilitating role in the water transport.


Marko Sever, Franci Merzel. Collective Domain Motion Facilitates Water Transport in SGLT1. International journal of molecular sciences. 2023 Jun 23;24(13)

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PMID: 37445706

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