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Open Access Research article

The drug:H+ antiporters of family 2 (DHA2), siderophore transporters (ARN) and glutathione:H+ antiporters (GEX) have a common evolutionary origin in hemiascomycete yeasts

Paulo Jorge Dias12 and Isabel Sá-Correia12*

Author Affiliations

1 IBB – Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001, Lisboa, Portugal

2 Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001, Lisboa, Portugal

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:901  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-901

Published: 18 December 2013



The Saccharomyces cerevisiae 14-spanner Drug:H+ Antiporter family 2 (DHA2) are transporters of the Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) involved in multidrug resistance (MDR). Although poorly characterized, DHA2 family members were found to participate in the export of structurally and functionally unrelated compounds or in the uptake of amino acids into the vacuole or the cell. In S. cerevisiae, the four ARN/SIT family members encode siderophore transporters and the two GEX family members encode glutathione extrusion pumps. The evolutionary history of DHA2, ARN and GEX genes, encoding 14-spanner MFS transporters, is reconstructed in this study.


The translated ORFs of 31 strains from 25 hemiascomycetous species, including 10 pathogenic Candida species, were compared using a local sequence similarity algorithm. The constraining and traversing of a network representing the pairwise similarity data gathered 355 full size proteins and retrieved ARN and GEX family members together with DHA2 transporters, suggesting the existence of a close phylogenetic relationship among these 14-spanner major facilitators. Gene neighbourhood analysis was combined with tree construction methodologies to reconstruct their evolutionary history and 7 DHA2 gene lineages, 5 ARN gene lineages, and 1 GEX gene lineage, were identified. The S. cerevisiae DHA2 proteins Sge1, Azr1, Vba3 and Vba5 co-clustered in a large phylogenetic branch, the ATR1 and YMR279C genes were proposed to be paralogs formed during the Whole Genome Duplication (WGD) whereas the closely related ORF YOR378W resides in its own lineage. Homologs of S. cerevisiae DHA2 vacuolar proteins Vba1, Vba2 and Vba4 occur widespread in the Hemiascomycetes. Arn1/Arn2 homologs were only found in species belonging to the Saccharomyces complex and are more abundant in the pre-WGD species. Arn4 homologs were only found in sub-telomeric regions of species belonging to the Sacharomyces sensu strictu group (SSSG). Arn3 type siderophore transporters are abundant in the Hemiascomycetes and form an ancient gene lineage extending to the filamentous fungi.


The evolutionary history of DHA2, ARN and GEX genes was reconstructed and a common evolutionary root shared by the encoded proteins is hypothesized. A new protein family, denominated DAG, is proposed to span these three phylogenetic subfamilies of 14-spanner MFS transporters.

Multidrug resistance (MDR); Hemiascomycete yeasts; Major facilitator superfamily (MFS); 14-spanner MFS transporters; DHA2 transporters; ARN transporters; GEX transporters; Comparative genomics; Phylogenetic analysis; Gene neighbourhood analysis