Classification of 29 families of secondary transport proteins into a single structural class using hydropathy profile analysis

J Mol Biol. 2003 Apr 11;327(5):901-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2836(03)00214-6.


A classification scheme for membrane proteins is proposed that clusters families of proteins into structural classes based on hydropathy profile analysis. The averaged hydropathy profiles of protein families are taken as fingerprints of the 3D structure of the proteins and, therefore, are able to detect more distant evolutionary relationships than amino acid sequences. A procedure was developed in which hydropathy profile analysis is used initially as a filter in a BLAST search of the NCBI protein database. The strength of the procedure is demonstrated by the classification of 29 families of secondary transporters into a single structural class, termed ST[3]. An exhaustive search of the database revealed that the 29 families contain 568 unique sequences. The proteins are predominantly from prokaryotic origin and most of the characterized transporters in ST[3] transport organic and inorganic anions and a smaller number are Na(+)/H(+) antiporters. All modes of energy coupling (symport, antiport, uniport) are found in structural class ST[3]. The relevance of the classification for structure/function prediction of uncharacterised transporters in the class is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / classification
  • Protein Conformation


  • Membrane Transport Proteins