Ionized magnesium (Mg²⁺) has important functions in cell, tissue, and organ physiology. The ion is a fundamental cofactor in processes such as nucleic acids and protein biosynthesis, energy generation (ATP production), cell proliferation, regulation of membrane stability and cellular signaling processes. Due to theses essential roles, cellular Mg²⁺ levels are tightly controlled and a multitude of active and passive transport systems are involved in its transport across biological membranes.
Our group has characterized the protein SLC41A1 as the main efflux system for Mg²⁺ in mammalian cells. The protein functions as Na⁺/Mg²⁺ exchanger and its action is important for fine-tuning the intracellular (cytoplasmic) magnesium homeostasis. Very recently we identified the closely related protein SLC41A3 as a potential mitochondrial Mg²⁺ efflux system. The main focus of our research is the in-depth investigation of the physiological relevance of these proteins for cellular magnesium homeostasis and to identify diseases that are directly or indirectly linked to a functional impairment of SLC41A1 and SLC41A3.