Co-transport proteins of mammalian cell membranes had eluded efforts of purification with classical biochemical methods until the late 1980s. These proteins had proven difficult to isolate because they contain hydrophilic and hydrophobic sequences and exist in membranes only in very low abundance (<0.2% of membrane proteins). The rabbit form of SGLT1 was the first mammalian co-transport protein ever to be cloned and sequenced, and this was reported in 1987. To circumvent the difficulties with traditional isolation methods, a novel expression cloning technique was used. Size-fractionation of large amounts of rabbit intestinal mRNA with preparative gel electrophoresis were then sequentially injected into Xenopus oocytes to ultimately find the RNA species that induced the expression of sodium-glucose cotransport.
SLC5A1 is important because of its role in the absorption of glucose and sodium, however, mutations in the gene can cause serious effects. A mutation in the SLC5A1 gene can cause problems creating the SGLT1 protein, leading to a rare glucose-galactose malabsorption disease. Glucose-galactose malabsorption occurs when the lining of the intestinal cells can't take in glucose and galactose which prevents the use of those molecules in catabolism and anabolism. The disease has symptoms that consist of watery and/or acidic diarrhea which is the result of water retention in the intestinal lumen and osmotic loss created by non-absorbed glucose, galactose and sodium. Glucose-Galactose malabsorption can cause death, due to loss of water from diarrhea, if the disease isn't treated soon. To counteract the disaes, oral rehydration therapy is performed using sodium, glucose, and water for intestinal reabsorption.
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