About this Research Topic
Around one third of all biologically relevant small molecules are organic cations. These include endogenous substances like catecholamines and other neurotransmitters, toxins and drugs designed to affect signaling processes. The organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1) is among the strongest expressed membrane transporters at the sinusoidal (blood-facing) side of liver cells and contributes substantially to the clearance of the blood from numerous organic cations. A most striking feature of OCT1 is its pronounced genetic diversity. Between 1 and 10% of all human populations have little to no OCT1 activity. With several of the OCT1 substrates up to 10% of Europeans are functionally OCT1 deficient. Apparently, the lack of OCT1 do not lead to apparent substantial pathological changes in these individuals. It thus appears that this transporter is not essential to human life, but does it means that OCT1 is irrelevant?
In the last 25 years since the first cloning of this transporter, data on its pharmacological and physiological relevance is steadily accumulating. Numerous clinically relevant drugs (e.g. metformin, morphine, fenoterol, sumatriptan, tramadol and tropisetron) have been shown to be substrates of OCT1, and OCT1 deficiency has been shown to affect the pharmacokinetics, efficacy, or toxicity of these drugs. Also vitamin B1 has been shown to be a substrate of OCT1, and in genetically modified mice OCT1 substantially modulated hepatic lipid metabolism, total body fat and systemic glucose and lipid concentrations.
Still, numerous important questions remain unsolved: For which drugs, toxins, or other endogenous or exogenous substances is OCT1 relevant? How can we predict the relevance of OCT1 from in vitro studies? What determines the substrate selectivity of OCT1 in comparison to other transporters or transport processes for organic cations? What regulates the expression of OCT1 in the liver and possibly in other tissues? What is the impact of OCT1 variation in different areas of medicine, including the therapies for cancer as well as for pulmonary, cardiovascular, or neurological diseases? How can evolutionary biology contribute to a better understanding of the roles of OCT1? And, importantly, what types of research are likely to significantly further the knowledge on OCT1 in the next decades?
Overall, the most recent knowledge collected for the Research Topic in Frontiers in Pharmacology knowledge should focus mostly on OCT1, and should provide us with a better understanding of the raison d’être for this single protein and its role in medicine and biology. But naturally, contributions describing general methodical approaches or interactions with other proteins may take additional transporters and proteins into account as well. Since it is apparently difficult to obtain three-dimensional atomic structure data of OCT1 also contributions are very welcome describing how we can get trustable knowledge on three-dimensional structure and function of OCT1. Thus, we are looking for submissions that illustrate how all the currently available methods and concepts of research contribute to a better understanding of OCT1 and how research should continue in this field.
Keywords: OCT1, drug membrane transporter, polymorphism, pharmacokinetics, structure and function
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