Rab protein evolution and the history of the eukaryotic endomembrane system

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Oct;67(20):3449-65. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0436-1. Epub 2010 Jun 26.


Spectacular increases in the quantity of sequence data genome have facilitated major advances in eukaryotic comparative genomics. By exploiting homology with classical model organisms, this makes possible predictions of pathways and cellular functions currently impossible to address in intractable organisms. Echoing realization that core metabolic processes were established very early following evolution of life on earth, it is now emerging that many eukaryotic cellular features, including the endomembrane system, are ancient and organized around near-universal principles. Rab proteins are key mediators of vesicle transport and specificity, and via the presence of multiple paralogues, alterations in interaction specificity and modification of pathways, contribute greatly to the evolution of complexity of membrane transport. Understanding system-level contributions of Rab proteins to evolutionary history provides insight into the multiple processes sculpting cellular transport pathways and the exciting challenges that we face in delving further into the origins of membrane trafficking specificity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Eukaryota / enzymology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins