The major facilitator superfamily

J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 1999 Nov;1(2):257-79.


In 1998 we updated earlier descriptions of the largest family of secondary transport carriers found in living organisms, the major facilitator superfamily (MFS). Seventeen families of transport proteins were shown to comprise this superfamily. We here report expansion of the MFS to include 29 established families as well as five probable families. Structural, functional, and mechanistic features of the constituent permeases are described, and each newly identified family is shown to exhibit specificity for a single class of substrates. Phylogenetic analyses define the evolutionary relationships of the members of each family to each other, and multiple alignments allow definition of family-specific signature sequences as well as all well-conserved sequence motifs. The work described serves to update previous publications and allows extrapolation of structural, functional and mechanistic information obtained with any one member of the superfamily to other members with limitations determined by the degrees of sequence divergence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / classification*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • Carrier Proteins