The sequenced members of a novel family of small, hydrophobic, bacterial multidrug-resistance efflux proteins, which we have designated the small multidrug resistance (SMR) protein family, are identified and analysed. Two distinct clusters of proteins were identified within this family: (i) small multidrug efflux systems; and (ii) Sug proteins, potentially involved in the suppression of groEL mutations. Hydropathy and residue distribution analyses of this family suggest a structural model in which the polypeptide chain spans the membrane four times as mildly amphipathic α-helices. The roles of specific residues, a possible mechanistic model of drug efflux, and the primary physiological role(s) of the SMR proteins are discussed.
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