HWI scientist Dr. Aviv Paz was part of a team that published a paper entitled “Membrane potential accelerates sugar uptake by stabilizing the outward-facing conformation of the Na/glucose symporter vSGLT” in the journal Nature Communications. This work with scientists at the University of California Los Angeles and San-Francisco has broad implications for transporting numerous chemicals into cells in the body and managing life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart failure, and kidney failure. Sodium-dependent glucose transporters (SGLTs) couple a downhill sodium (Na+) ion gradient to supply the energy for sugar entry into cells. A previous study by this team hypothesized that the naturally occurring membrane electrical potentials influence the conformation of vSGLT and increase the rates at which sugars enter cells. In the present study, the impact of the membrane potential on vSGLT structure and function was investigated using sugar uptake assays, double electron-electron resonance, electrostatic calculations, and kinetic modeling. Negative membrane potentials shift the conformational equilibrium of vSGLT towards an outward-facing conformation, a state in which the transporter is better positioned to bind its cargo molecules, leading to overall increased sugar transport rates. Electrostatic calculations identified specific residues responsible for sensing and driving this conformational shift. The influence of the negative membrane potential on the conformation and transport rates could be a general mechanism that controls other transporters and channels.