High serum levels of uric acid are associated with an increased risk of developing gout, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and renal failure. Urate is produced as a result of purine degradation and as yet little is known about the pathway for urate efflux from cells. In the May Journal of Clinical Investigation Michael Lipkowitz and colleagues from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York provide data on the human urate transporter galectin 9.

Lipkowitz et al show that a recombinant protein produced from a nucleotide sequence identical to human ecalectin and the intestinal isoform of galectin 9, readily inserts into and functions effectively as a highly selective urate transporter/channel (hUAT) in lipid bilayers. In addition, following stable transfection and expression in a renal epithelial cell line they report that hUAT resides in plasma membranes as a transmembrane protein with at least one extracellular domain and cytoplasmic amino and carboxy...

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