The CorA Magnesium Transporter Gene Family

Microb Comp Genomics. 1998;3(3):151-69. doi: 10.1089/omi.1.1998.3.151.


The CorA transport system is the primary Mg2+ influx system of Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli. The CorA protein has no homology to any other known family of proteins. It has an unusual membrane topology, with a large, soluble, highly charged periplasmic N-terminal domain with three transmembrane segments in a shorter, hydrophobic C-terminal domain. Previous phenotypic and molecular data had suggested that this transport system was widespread in the Bacteria. In this report we show that CorA is virtually ubiquitous in the Bacteria and Archaea, forming a distinct family of transport proteins. Genomic sequences to date have revealed at least 22 members of the CorA family in the Bacteria and the Archaea, with 6 more distant members in the yeasts. Only three of the smallest bacterial genomes lack a CorA homologue. Strikingly, phylogenetic analysis does not show clustering by related species or even within kingdom. Several species of Bacteria contain two or even three CorA paralogues. Within species, these paralogues are not closely related, however, and we suggest that they might have distinct transport functions. A multiple alignment suggests three extended consensus regions within the N-terminal soluble domain of CorA, which is predicted to be virtually all alpha-helical. A fourth consensus region includes the last 20 residues of the soluble domain and continues through the entire membrane domain. The first half of this last consensus domain may form an amphipathic alpha-helix that extends from the soluble domain into the first transmembrane segment. The degree of charge in the first transmembrane segment is quite variable, and we suggest that this transport family may include members with only two rather than three transmembrane segments. If so, this would place the N-terminal soluble domain on different sides of the membrane in different members of the family. We suggest that the CorA Mg2+ transport system forms the major Mg2+ uptake system in the Bacteria and Archaea but that some family members may have a function other than Mg2+ transport.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Archaeal Proteins / classification
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / classification
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Carrier Proteins / classification*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cation Transport Proteins*
  • Consensus Sequence / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / classification
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • CorA protein, Salmonella
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Magnesium