Phylogenetic analysis of AAA proteins

J Struct Biol. 2004 Apr-May;146(1-2):2-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2003.11.020.


AAA ATPases form a large protein family with manifold cellular roles. They belong to the AAA+ superfamily of ringshaped P-loop NTPases, which exert their activity through the energy-dependent unfolding of macromolecules. Phylogenetic analyses have suggested the existence of five major clades of AAA domains (proteasome subunits, metalloproteases, domains D1 and D2 of ATPases with two AAA domains, and the MSP1/katanin/spastin group), as well as a number of deeply branching minor clades. These analyses however have been characterized by a lack of consistency in defining the boundaries of the AAA family. We have used cluster analysis to delineate unambiguously the group of AAA sequences within the AAA+ superfamily. Phylogenetic and cluster analysis of this sequence set revealed the existence of a sixth major AAA clade, comprising the mitochondrial, membrane-bound protein BCS1 and its homologues. In addition, we identified several deep branches consisting mainly of hypothetical proteins resulting from genomic projects. Analysis of the AAA N-domains provided direct support for the obtained phylogeny for most branches, but revealed some deep splits that had not been apparent from phylogenetic analysis and some unexpected similarities between distant clades. It also revealed highly degenerate D1 domains in plant MSP1 sequences and in at least one deeply branching group of hypothetical proteins (YC46), showing that AAA proteins with two ATPase domains arose at least three times independently.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / chemistry
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / classification
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / physiology*
  • Amino Acid Sequence / physiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Metalloproteases
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase / chemistry
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase / classification
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Metalloproteases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase