We demonstrate that three integral membrane receptors of mammals--the ecotropic retroviral leukemia receptor (ERR), the human retroviral receptor (HRR), and the T-cell early activator (Tea)--are homologous to a family of transporters specific for amino acids, polyamines, and choline (APC), which catalyze solute uniport, solute:cation symport, or solute:solute antiport in yeast, fungi, and eubacteria. Interestingly, the ERR membrane protein was recently shown to function as a cation:amino acid cotransporter. A binary sequence similarity matrix and an evolutionary tree of the 14 members of this family, illustrating their sequence similarities and divergences, were constructed. Other proteins, including the developmentally controlled GerAII spore germination protein of Bacillus subtilis and the acetylcholine receptor of Drosophila melanogaster gave sequence comparison scores of a sufficiently large magnitude to suggest (but not to establish) a common evolutionary origin with members of the APC family. We report an extended and corrected Tea cDNA sequence and show that the mammalian Tea and ERR encoding genes are differentially expressed in tissues and cell lines. Furthermore, the two mammalian cDNA sequences hybridize with other vertebrate and yeast genomic DNAs under stringent conditions. These observations support the notion that cell surface receptor proteins in mammals are transport proteins that share a common origin with transport proteins of single-celled organisms. Thus, permeases of essential metabolites may function pathologically as viral receptors.