The Escherichia coli ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins

Mol Microbiol. 1998 Apr;28(1):5-13. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1998.00764.x.


The recent completion of the Escherichia coli genome sequence (Blattner et al., 1997) has permitted an analysis of the complement of genomically encoded ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins. A total of 79 ABC proteins makes this the largest paralogous family of proteins in E. coli. These 79 proteins include 97 ABC domains (as some proteins include more than one ABC domain) and are components of 69 independent functional systems (as many systems involve more than one ABC domain). The ABC domains are often, but not exclusively, the energy-generating domains of multicomponent membrane-bound transporters. Thus, 57 of the 69 systems are ABC transporters, of which 44 are periplasmic-binding protein-dependent uptake systems and 13 are presumed exporters. The genes encoding these ABC transporters occupy almost 5% of the genome. Of the 12 systems that are not obviously transport related, the function of only one, the excision repair protein UvrA, is known. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that the majority of ABC proteins can be assigned to 10 subfamilies. Together with statistical and, importantly, biological evidence, this analysis provides insight into the evolution and function of the ABC proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / chemistry
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters