Identification of three distinct phylogenetic groups of CAX cation/proton antiporters

J Mol Evol. 2006 Dec;63(6):815-25. doi: 10.1007/s00239-006-0048-4. Epub 2006 Nov 2.


Ca(2+)/cation antiporter (CaCA) proteins are integral membrane proteins that transport Ca(2+) or other cations using the H(+) or Na(+) gradient generated by primary transporters. The CAX (for CAtion eXchanger) family is one of the five families that make up the CaCA superfamily. CAX genes have been found in bacteria, Dictyostelium, fungi, plants, and lower vertebrates, but only a small number of CAXs have been functionally characterized. In this study, we explored the diversity of CAXs and their phylogenetic relationships. The results demonstrate that there are three major types of CAXs: type I (CAXs similar to Arabidopsis thaliana CAX1, found in plants, fungi, and bacteria), type II (CAXs with a long N-terminus hydrophilic region, found in fungi, Dictyostelium, and lower vertebrates), and type III (CAXs similar to Escherichia coli ChaA, found in bacteria). Some CAXs were found to have secondary structures that are different from the canonical six transmembrane (TM) domains-acidic motif-five TM domain structure. Our phylogenetic tree indicated no evidence to support the cyanobacterial origin of plant CAXs or the classification of Arabidopsis exchangers CAX7 to CAX11. For the first time, these results clearly define the CAX exchanger family and its subtypes in phylogenetic terms. The surprising diversity of CAXs demonstrates their potential range of biochemical properties and physiologic relevance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antiporters / classification
  • Antiporters / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / classification
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins / classification
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Antiporters
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • calcium-hydrogen antiporters