Chem Rev. 2021 Apr 22. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.0c00983. Online ahead of print.
The major facilitator superfamily (MFS) is the largest known superfamily of secondary active transporters. MFS transporters are responsible for transporting a broad spectrum of substrates, either down their concentration gradient or uphill using the energy stored in the electrochemical gradients. Over the last 10 years, more than a hundred different MFS transporter structures covering close to 40 members have provided an atomic framework for piecing together the molecular basis of their transport cycles. Here, we summarize the remarkable promiscuity of MFS members in terms of substrate recognition and proton coupling as well as the intricate gating mechanisms undergone in achieving substrate translocation. We outline studies that show how residues far from the substrate binding site can be just as important for fine-tuning substrate recognition and specificity as those residues directly coordinating the substrate, and how a number of MFS transporters have evolved to form unique complexes with chaperone and signaling functions. Through a deeper mechanistic description of glucose (GLUT) transporters and multidrug resistance (MDR) antiporters, we outline novel refinements to the rocker-switch alternating-access model, such as a latch mechanism for proton-coupled monosaccharide transport. We emphasize that a full understanding of transport requires an elucidation of MFS transporter dynamics, energy landscapes, and the determination of how rate transitions are modulated by lipids.