Introduction: Drug transporters are large transmembrane proteins which catalyse the movement of a wide variety of chemicals, including drugs as well as xeno- and endobiotics through cellular membranes. The major groups of these proteins include the ATP-binding cassette transporters which in eukaryotes work as ATP-fuelled drug exporters and the Solute Carrier transporters, with various transport directions and mechanisms.Areas covered: In this review, we discuss the key ATP-binding cassette and Solute Carrier drug transporters which have been reported to contribute to the function and/or protection of undifferentiated human stem cells and during tissue differentiation. We review the various techniques for studying transporter expression and function in stem cells, and the role of drug transporters in foetal and placental tissues is also discussed. We especially focus on the regulation of transporter expression by factors modulating cell differentiation properties and on the function of the transporters in adjustment to environmental challenges.Expert opinion: The relatively new and as yet unexplored territory of transporters in stem cell biology may rapidly expand and bring important new information regarding the metabolic and epigenetic regulation of stemness and the early differentiation properties. Drug transporters are clearly important protective and regulatory components in stem cells and differentiation.
- ABC transporters
- drug transporters
- human stem cell differentiation
- regulation of transporter expression
- SLC transporters
- stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas