Phylogenetic Characterization of the MIP Family of Transmembrane Channel Proteins
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The ubiquitous major intrinsic protein (MIP) family includes several transmembrane channel proteins known to exhibit specificity for water and/or neutral solutes. We have identified 84 fully or partially sequenced members of this family, have multiply aligned over 50 representative, divergent, fully sequenced members, have used the resultant multiple alignment to derive current MIP family-specific signature sequences, and have constructed a phylogenetic tree. The tree reveals novel features relevant to the evolutionary history of this protein family. These features plus an evaluation of functional studies lead to the postulates: (i) that all current MIP family proteins derived from two divergent bacterial paralogues, one a glycerol facilitator, the other an aquaporin, and (ii) that most or all current members of the family have retained these or closely related physiological functions.
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