Using sequence profile analysis and sequence-based structure predictions, we define a previously unrecognized, widespread class of P-loop NTPases. The signal transduction ATPases with numerous domains (STAND) class includes the AP-ATPases (animal apoptosis regulators CED4/Apaf-1, plant disease resistance proteins, and bacterial AfsR-like transcription regulators) and NACHT NTPases (e.g. NAIP, TLP1, Het-E-1) that have been studied extensively in the context of apoptosis, pathogen response in animals and plants, and transcriptional regulation in bacteria. We show that, in addition to these well-characterized protein families, the STAND class includes several other groups of (predicted) NTPase domains from diverse signaling and transcription regulatory proteins from bacteria and eukaryotes, and three Archaea-specific families. We identified the STAND domain in several biologically well-characterized proteins that have not been suspected to have NTPase activity, including soluble adenylyl cyclases, nephrocystin 3 (implicated in polycystic kidney disease), and Rolling pebble (a regulator of muscle development); these findings are expected to facilitate elucidation of the functions of these proteins. The STAND class belongs to the additional strand, catalytic E division of P-loop NTPases together with the AAA+ ATPases, RecA/helicase-related ATPases, ABC-ATPases, and VirD4/PilT-like ATPases. The STAND proteins are distinguished from other P-loop NTPases by the presence of unique sequence motifs associated with the N-terminal helix and the core strand-4, as well as a C-terminal helical bundle that is fused to the NTPase domain. This helical module contains a signature GxP motif in the loop between the two distal helices. With the exception of the archaeal families, almost all STAND NTPases are multidomain proteins containing three or more domains. In addition to the NTPase domain, these proteins typically contain DNA-binding or protein-binding domains, superstructure-forming repeats, such as WD40 and TPR, and enzymatic domains involved in signal transduction, including adenylate cyclases and kinases. By analogy to the AAA+ ATPases, it can be predicted that STAND NTPases use the C-terminal helical bundle as a "lever" to transmit the conformational changes brought about by NTP hydrolysis to effector domains. STAND NTPases represent a novel paradigm in signal transduction, whereby adaptor, regulatory switch, scaffolding, and, in some cases, signal-generating moieties are combined into a single polypeptide. The STAND class consists of 14 distinct families, and the evolutionary history of most of these families is riddled with dramatic instances of lineage-specific expansion and apparent horizontal gene transfer. The STAND NTPases are most abundant in developmentally and organizationally complex prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Transfer of genes for STAND NTPases from bacteria to eukaryotes on several occasions might have played a significant role in the evolution of eukaryotic signaling systems.