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Open Access Research article

A new subfamily LIP of the major intrinsic proteins

Kirill Vladimirovich Khabudaev*, Darya Petrovna Petrova, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Grachev and Yelena Valentinovna Likhoshway

Author Affiliations

Department of Cell Ultrastructure, Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 3 Ulan-Batorskaya, P.O. Box 278, 664033 Irkutsk, Russia

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:173  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-173

Published: 4 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Proteins of the major intrinsic protein (MIP) family, or aquaporins, have been detected in almost all organisms. These proteins are important in cells and organisms because they allow for passive transmembrane transport of water and other small, uncharged polar molecules.

Results

We compared the predicted amino acid sequences of 20 MIPs from several algae species of the phylum Heterokontophyta (Kingdom Chromista) with the sequences of MIPs from other organisms. Multiple sequence alignments revealed motifs that were homologous to functionally important NPA motifs and the so-called ar/R-selective filter of glyceroporins and aquaporins. The MIP sequences of the studied chromists fell into several clusters that belonged to different groups of MIPs from a wide variety of organisms from different Kingdoms. Two of these proteins belong to Plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs), four of them belong to GlpF-like intrinsic proteins (GIPs), and one of them belongs to a specific MIPE subfamily from green algae. Three proteins belong to the unclassified MIPs, two of which are of bacterial origin. Eight of the studied MIPs contain an NPM-motif in place of the second conserved NPA-motif typical of the majority of MIPs. The MIPs of heterokonts within all detected clusters can differ from other MIPs in the same cluster regarding the structure of the ar/R-selective filter and other generally conserved motifs.

Conclusions

We proposed placing nine MIPs from heterokonts into a new group, which we have named the LIPs (large intrinsic proteins). The possible substrate specificities of the studied MIPs are discussed.

Keywords:
Aquaporins; Chromista; Heterokontophyta; Major intrinsic proteins