The drug/metabolite transporter superfamily


M. H. Saier Jr, Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116, USA. Fax: + 1 858 534 7108, Tel.: + 1 858 534 4084, E-mail:


Previous work defined several families of secondary active transporters, including the prokaryotic small multidrug resistance (SMR) and rhamnose transporter (RhaT) families as well as the eukaryotic organellar triose phosphate transporter (TPT) and nucleotide-sugar transporter (NST) families. We show that these families as well as several other previously unrecognized families of established or putative secondary active transporters comprise a large ubiquitous superfamily found in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. We have designated it the drug/metabolite transporter (DMT) superfamily (transporter classification number 2.A.7) and have shown that it consists of 14 phylogenetic families, five of which include no functionally well-characterized members. The largest family in the DMT superfamily, the drug/metabolite exporter (DME) family, consists of over 100 sequenced members, several of which have been implicated in metabolite export. Each DMT family consists of proteins with a distinctive topology: four, five, nine or 10 putative transmembrane α helical spanners (TMSs) per polypeptide chain. The five TMS proteins include an N-terminal TMS lacking the four TMS proteins. The full-length proteins of 10 putative TMSs apparently arose by intragenic duplication of an element encoding a primordial five-TMS polypeptide. Sequenced members of the 14 families are tabulated and phylogenetic trees for all the families are presented. Sequence and topological analyses allow structural and functional predictions.