The goals of the Wright laboratory are to understand sodium-glucose cotransporters (SGLTs) from the atomic level to their physiological roles in humans. These transporters (SGLTs) are responsible for the active transport of glucose into cells and glucose sensing in the body.
The lab studies the structure and function of human and bacterial SGLTs using a combination of biophysical, biochemical, molecular and genetic techniques to unravel how these molecular machines convert the energy stored in sodium gradients to drive the uphill transport of solutes. The SGLTs are expressed Escherichia coli, cultured cell lines and Xenopus laevis oocytes for biophysical studies or for the isolation of protein for biochemical and structural determinations in collaboration with the Abramson group. A new project underway seeks to understand how drugs interact with SGLT1 and SGLT2, especially since there is much interest in targeting SGLT2 in the treatment of diabetes. The Wright lab is also interested in how mutations in SGLT genes cause defects in intestinal and renal glucose transport, i.e., Glucose Galactose Malabsorption and Familial Renal Glucosuria.
The SGLT genes are expressed not only in the intestine and kidney but throughout the body, including brain. To explore their function the Wright lab has developed, in collaboration with the Barrio group, methods to image SGLTs in human subjects using Positron Emission Tomography (PET). By studying control subjects, patients with inherited disorders, and patients with other diseases the lab is working to parse out the function of the SGLTs throughout the body.