Potassium- or sodium-efflux ATPase, a key enzyme in the evolution of fungi

Microbiology. 2002 Apr;148(Pt 4):933-941. doi: 10.1099/00221287-148-4-933.


Potassium is the most abundant cation in cells. Therefore, plant-associated fungi and intracellular parasites are permanently or circumstantially exposed to high K(+) and must avoid excessive K(+) accumulation activating K(+) efflux systems. Because high K(+) and high pH are compatible in natural environments, free-living organisms cannot keep a permanent transmembrane DeltapH and cannot rely only on K(+)/H(+) antiporters, as do mitochondria. This study shows that the Schizosaccharomyces pombe CTA3 is a K(+)-efflux ATPase, and that other fungi are furnished with Na(+)-efflux ATPases, which also pump Na(+). All these fungal ATPases, including those pumping only Na(+), form a phylogenetic group, IID or ENA, among P-type ATPases. By searching in databases and partial cloning of ENA genes in species of Zygomycetes and Basidiomycetes, the authors conclude that probably all fungi have these genes. This study indicates that fungal K(+)- or Na(+)-ATPases evolved from an ancestral K(+)-ATPase, through processes of gene duplication. In yeast hemiascomycetes these duplications have occurred recently and produced bifunctional ATPases, whereas in Neurospora, and probably in other euascomycetes, they occurred earlier in evolution and produced specialized ATPases. In Schizosaccharomyces, adaptation to Na(+) did not involve the duplication of the K(+)-ATPase and thus it retains an enzyme which is probably close to the original one. The parasites Leishmania and Trypanosoma have ATPases phylogenetically related to fungal K(+)-ATPases, which are probably functional homologues of the fungal enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / enzymology*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Sodium
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • potassium transporting ATPase
  • sodium-translocating ATPase
  • Potassium

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ420741
  • GENBANK/AJ420742
  • GENBANK/AJ420743
  • GENBANK/AJ420744
  • GENBANK/AJ420745
  • GENBANK/AJ420746